Whistleblowing requires courage, but don’t expect Facebook to change its ways

This morning’s Observer column

The bigger question is whether whistleblowing does any good even when it is accomplished as skilfully as she has managed it to date. Does it lead to meaningful change?

Take Edward Snowden’s case. His revelations were genuinely sensational, revealing the astonishing scale and comprehensiveness of the NSA’s (and its allies’) electronic surveillance. It was clear that the democratic oversight of this surveillance in a range of western countries had been woefully inadequate in the post-9/11 years. Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg

The revelations triggered inquiries in many of those countries, but what actually happened? In the US, very little. In the UK, after three separate inquiries, there was a new act of parliament – the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which replaced inadequate oversight with slightly less inadequate oversight and gave the security services a set of useful new powers.

Will it be any different with the Haugen revelations? My hunch is no, because the political will to tackle Facebook’s astonishingly profitable abuse is still missing…

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