Privacy Expert Mary Ross Attempts To Deliver Letter to Sandberg Asking Her to 'Lean In' on Consumer Privacy

April 9, 2018

Facebook Front Office Refuses to Accept Letter

MENLO PARK - President of Californians for Consumer Privacy Mary Stone Ross challenges Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to heed her own advice to "use her voice for good" and live up to her stated ideal of leadership by withdrawing Facebook's opposition to the California Consumer Privacy Act. Ross and other women attempted to deliver a letter to Facebook and were met by staff in the lobby, who refused to even accept the letter and sent Ross away.

Though Sandberg has apologized for the recent Facebook data breach, Facebook is simultaneously joining Comcast, AT&T, Google and Verizon in funding the million-dollar opposition campaign to the California Consumer Privacy Act, a November ballot measure that provides basic consumer privacy protections. 

Below is the letter from Mary Ross that Facebook refused to accept today. To speak to Mary Ross, contact Inez Kaminski at (805) 708-4883 or ikaminski@caprivacy.org. 

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April 9, 2018

Dear Ms. Sandberg—

I'm leaning in today and asking you to do the same. As the President of Californians for Consumer Privacy, I urge you to withdraw Facebook's opposition to the California Consumer Privacy Act. This initiative will be on the November ballot and will give consumers:

1. The right to tell a business not to share or sell our personal information

2. The right to know where and to whom our data is being sold or shared; and

3. The right to know that our service providers are protecting our personal information.

As you said in Lean In, "We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change." I truly believe we need change now.

I applaud your and Mr. Zuckerberg's apologies that Facebook "let our customers down," assurances that Facebook can and must do better, and public acknowledgments that Facebook does not sell personal information. Yet Facebook joined Google, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon in contributing over $1 million to oppose our initiative that provides these protections to all consumers. Given everything we have learned over the past few weeks about what Cambridge Analytica did with the data Facebook allowed it to collect, I ask that Facebook:

1. Withdraw its opposition and join the overwhelming majority of Californians who support it;

2. Demonstrate its dedication to its users by immediately and voluntarily adopting the privacy protections contained in this initiative; and

3. Lead other industry players in setting an example of good corporate citizenship by operationalizing the privacy protections and commitments you pledged in your recent statements.

Our country is becoming increasingly polarized by the very technology that was supposed to connect us. As a former CIA counterintelligence officer and Counsel on the House Intelligence Committee, I have a fundamental understanding of the power of big data. I've seen first-hand its potential to do good including disrupting human trafficking networks and preventing terrorist attacks, but I have also seen that power abused by governments and — as we have seen with Cambridge Analytica — by corporate interests. Our initiative shines a light on what data is collected and grants consumers control over its sale, so that our personal information cannot be used to manipulate and divide us. 

Ms. Sandberg, you have said, "Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place." You asked women like me across the country to lean in – and I am. I'm leaning in right now. I'm using my voice for good on a serious problem that I cannot help but try to change. Tomorrow, when Mr. Zuckerberg testifies before Congress, I ask you to please raise your voice too. 

You have a chance to be on the right side of history with this issue. As a role model for me and so many others, I respectfully ask: will you lean in with me? 

Sincere regards, 

Mary Stone Ross

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