Incoming: Friday afternoon #Facebook / #GDPR tweetstorm, because this week has been pretty deflating for us #privacy wonks.

If you're European, you probably got an email from FB this week, with this subject line:

"X, please accept our updated Terms by May 25 to continue using Facebook."

Now, let's talk about how non-compliant that subject line is. It suggest that failing to accept the new terms will result in account suspension. That's a problem.
#GDPR requires consent to be "freely given" and says that services can't be withheld just because the consumer doesn't consent to ALL THE TRACKING.

The last line of the email is "Please go to Facebook to review and accept the Terms" which reinforces the subject line threat.
So what's FB playing at? Why would the thumb their noses at one of the most sacred aspects of GDPR -- that of transparency and meaningful choice? Don't they know the regulators are watching them closely?

Ah, yes. Yes, they do. And here's what I suspect is happening:
Facebook knows they're going to face a data protection action. It's inevitable. So they're toeing the line. They're going to push things as far as they can, for a few reasons.
1 - they have the resources -- cash, legal, political -- to take a legal battle all the way to the ECJ.
2 - They must have tabletopped this, and believe they will win their case. If they do, they will have effectively lowered the bar for consent mechanisms for EVERYONE. That makes it easier for all site owners to collect data that... feeds back to Facebook. POINT.
And, of course, they know that 3) there's a possibility that the Irish DPA won't actually come after them at all, because tax revenue.

So, point 1 is actually sort of hypothetical to begin with, but point 2 remains the same. FB will set the tone for consent mechanisms.
When I take a moment to look at Facebook objectively, I recognize the kind of strategic and political genius that comes along once in a blue moon. The titans of the industrial age had it, for example.

It's breathtaking in its sophistication and calculated hubris.
Subjectively, of course, it is soul-crushing.

Whether you're a small-gov libertarian or a regulation-loving social democrat, this should scare you. Because privacy, identity, self-sovereignty, social cohesion, individualism... they're ALL at stake. No person or group is immune.
Think of it this way: a company that is the de factor "owner" of 2 billion peoples' digital identities has the power to brute-force its will on laws that have been debated and decided by democratically selected officials.

I don't know what the solution is. But we are in trouble
And with that, I hope you'll excuse me while I go eat tacos and drink a cerveza.

PS - yea, Yahoo's new terms also suck, and you should get ProtonMail or a paid Google domain for email. But you knew that already.


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