San Jose Mercury News: California privacy advocates ask Facebook why it’s opposing proposed ballot measure

March 22, 2018

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally spoke Wednesday after five days of silence about the company’s latest major crisis, he said during a television interview that he wasn’t “sure we shouldn’t be regulated.”

Why, then, is Facebook opposing the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018? That’s what the lead proponent of a proposed state ballot initiative wants to know.

“It drives me a little crazy that the company says it puts privacy first and it’s at the center of everything they do,” Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco real estate developer, told this publication Wednesday.

This week, Mactaggart penned an open letter to Zuckerberg, in which he referenced the Cambridge Analytica mess — the apparent misuse of 50 million Facebook users’ personal information by a data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — and called the Facebook CEO out for funding an effort to defeat his measure.

“When we were drafting the initiative, we reached out to Facebook to try to enlist its support,” he wrote. “We were … disappointed to learn that on February 27, 2018, Facebook joined Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Google, to contribute over $1 million to a political action committee you set up to oppose the measure.”

He said he and his group, Californians for Consumer Privacy, have not heard back from Facebook.

State records show Facebook and Google contributed $200,000 each to the Committee to Protect California Jobs. Comcast and Verizon each contributed the same amount, according to the late contribution report filed with California’s secretary of state. A separate report shows a $200,000 donation by AT&T. The reports filed with the state show either the California Chamber of Commerce or the California Chamber of Commerce and “a Coalition of Innovation Companies” as filers.

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