Tech

‘He Hurt A Lot Of People’: Ron Wyden Floats Putting Mark Zuckerberg In Prison For Facebook’s Alleged Privacy Violations

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden floated the possibility that imprisoning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg might be the best way to hold the social media company responsible for alleged privacy violations.

“I think he ought to be held personally accountable, which is everything from financial fines to — and let me underline this — the possibility of a prison term,” Wyden said in an interview published Wednesday on a local Oregon website. “Because he hurt a lot of people.”

Wyden is best known for spearheading legislation in the 1990s that helped kickstart the internet explosion.

A legal expert splashed cold water on his suggestion.

Such a prosecution is possible, but “the likelihood of criminal action is rather slim,” Tim Gleason, who teaches communications law at the University of Oregon, told reporters about Wyden’s suggestion.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Wyden added: “And, by the way, there is a precedent for this: In financial services, if the CEO and the executives lie about the financials, they can be held personally accountable.”

Wyden also responded to questions about whether he regrets proposing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies from being held responsible for what users post.

Wyden is often critical of tech companies, despite reportedly raising $124,625 from Twitter, Google and Facebook’s employees and firms, according to Politico in 2017. He cosigned a letter in 2017 with other Democrats asking the Federal Election Commission to devise rules to prevent foreign groups from purchasing online political ads.

Wyden is finding an unlikely companion in Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who says Facebook and other big tech companies are hurting children. Other Republicans are jumping on board as well. (RELATED: Google And Facebook Have Donated Thousands To Congressmen They Are Testifying Before)

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of President Donald Trump’s most devoted allies, said in July he wants to make changes to Section 230, which was passed in 1996 when the internet was new. Hawley has been front and center on the issue for months, pushing various legislation targeting YouTube and Silicon Valley companies.

Wyden’s office and Facebook have not returned the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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