The only way to get leverage over massive technology companies is to ban them entirely, an international assembly of politicians heard on Tuesday.

“The most effective path to reform would be to shut down the platforms,” said Roger McNamee, the author of Zucked, a critical biography of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The ban wouldn’t necessarily be permanent, but just until countries could get a handle on how data is being used to predict and manipulate behaviour among users, said McNamee. That kind of activity, particularly the manipulation of behaviour, is “repugnant,” he said.

McNamee pointed to Sri Lanka, which banned social media sites in the wake of a series of co-ordinated terrorist attacks, as an example. That ban lasted nine days and was an attempt to stop people from spreading misinformation, confusion and inciting violence in the days after the attacks.

McNamee’s proposal was just one of the ideas pitched at the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy held in Ottawa on Tuesday. The committee is part of a worldwide effort to bring massive companies like Google and Facebook to heel on such issues as privacy, hate speech and disinformation.

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Stuart Thomson – Canadian Press – May 28, 2019.

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