UK Lawmaker Who Quizzed Facebook On Its Privacy Practices Doesn't Seem To Care Much About His Own Website's Privacy Practices

from the just-sayin' dept

Jason Smith, over at Indivigital has been doing quite a job of late in highlighting the hypocrisy of European lawmakers screaming at internet companies over their privacy practices, while doing little on their own websites of what they're demanding of the companies. He pointed out the EU Commission itself appeared to be violating the GDPR, leading it to claim that it was exempt. And now he's got a new story up, pointing out that the website of UK Parliament member, Damian Collins, who is the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee... does not appear to have a privacy policy in place, even though he took the lead in quizzing Facebook about its own privacy practices and its lack of transparency on how it treats user data.

Now, there are those of us who believe that privacy policies are a dumb idea that don't do anything to protect people's privacy -- but if you're going to be grandstanding about how Facebook is not transparent enough about how it handles user data, it seems like you should be a bit transparent yourself. Smith's article details how many other members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee don't seem to be living up to their own standards. They may have been attacking social media sites... but were happy to include tracking widgets from those very same social media sites on their own sites.

Julie4Sunderland.co.uk is maintained on behalf of Julie Elliott MP, a fellow member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. It serves third-party content from Facebook and upwards of 18 cookies on visitor’s computers.

Likewise, websites of fellow members Jo Stevens, Simon Hart, Julian Knight, Ian Lucas, Rebecca Pow and Giles Watling are also collecting data on behalf of the social networking giant from their visitors.

The websites of Julian Knight, Ian Lucas, Giles Watling and Rebecca Pow also collect data on visitors for Twitter. Meanwhile, Rebecca Pow’s website sets third-party cookies from YouTube.com.

Damian Collins’s website features a cookie message however the link in the message takes the user to a contact page that contains a form that requests the user’s name and email address.

The page on which the form resides contains a link that activates a modal window and encourages the user to sign-up for Damian Collins’s email newsletter.

Moreover, the Parliamentary page for the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee is also setting and serving third-party cookies and content from Twitter.

Now, you can reasonably argue that the websites of politicians aren't the same as a social media giant used by like half of the entire world. And there is a point there. But it's also worth noting that it's amazing how accusatory politicians and others get towards social media sites when they don't seem to live up to the same standards on their own websites. Maybe Facebook should do better -- but the very actions of these UK Parliament members, at the very least, suggests that even they recognize what they're demanding of Facebook is more cosmetic "privacy theater" than anything serious.


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  • identicon
    Vic, 18 Jun 2018 @ 4:46pm

    "Now, you can reasonably argue that the websites of politicians aren't the same as a social media giant used by like half of the entire world."

    You can also reasonably argue that "but on the other hand, they are the politicians! Shouldn't that count for something? anything?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2018 @ 5:37pm

    Yet another pro-Facebook corporate apologist piece by the most improperly named tech blog on the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Jun 2018 @ 6:09pm

    But we make the law for you, not for us!

    I often enjoy their demands others do things while not doing it themselves. They say how easy it is & yet can't do it for themselves. When caught, well we're special and exempt.

    I used to say that before things could become law, those proposing them should have to live under them for a year before they can inflict it upon others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JasonS (profile), 18 Jun 2018 @ 6:41pm

    Thanks for the mention, Mike (I'm the original author of the posts linked to above).

    A further point: we analyzed about 20 privacy policies of MPs and found many are relying on the "public interest" basis to process user data (the ICO refers to it as "public task").

    Public interest is one of six lawful bases under the GDPR (the one most are familiar with is user consent i.e. the basis many private organizations have to rely on) and its clarified further in The Data Protection Act 2018 to include "processing of personal data that is necessary for...an activity that supports or promotes democratic engagement."

    In other words, many lawmakers appear to be relying on the justification that collecting data on their users "promotes democratic engagement." Some don't appear to separate the bases for processing data dependent on task either, i.e. everything falls under "public task."

    We'll publish a more in-depth post about it later this week.

    Cheers,

    Jason

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2018 @ 6:42pm

    FreeFone a thing yet?

    you know, my phone calls your phone?

    too technilogallly advanced

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2018 @ 6:49pm

    You keep pretending Facebook and "politicians" aren't allies.

    First, doesn't matter whether the "politicians" are two-faced lying Satanists or not, doesn't mean that Facebook isn't evil TOO.

    Facebook and "politicians" are both part of Them and against We The People. All phony and staged as pro-wrestling, lacks only the wide belts.

    Mansick points to everywhere but Facebook / Google and other mega-corporations which are actually doing the spying / tracking / advertising, with the intent of distracting. -- And clearly the technique works on Techdirt fanboys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2018 @ 8:21pm

      Re:

      Oh, sure. You'll find no disagreement from me that Facebook and Google are evil.

      Funnily enough, though, Facebook and Google can't call for my arrest based on flimsy reasons. Politicians do.

      Hell, haven't you been demanding Google to surrender all potential pirate data to the RIAA? If Google is being "evil", it's because you asked for it.

      Nice going, you fucking cunt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2018 @ 3:37am

    seems to me to be another case of 'dont do what i do. do what i tell you!'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2018 @ 7:44am

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding here, but it seems like the politicians websites have embedded content from e.g. Facebook, and that those embeds are tracking the users. Shouldn't it be directed at the owner of the embedded code storing the cookie, not the site who passes it through?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wolfie0827 (profile), 19 Jun 2018 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      But there is an easy fix for the politicians, Don't embed the shit in the first place. So you, they chose to embed it so they need to take some of the heat!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thaddeus Boyd, AZ, 21 Jun 2018 @ 9:16am

    As long as my NAMBLA subscription isnt messed with, an my dog porn stays free, you can have ALL of everybody elses privacy rights.

    I would light up a grade school with magic, to protect my NAMBLA account.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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