The business model of Google and Facebook threatens human rights, it’s been claimed.

A new report by Amnesty International claims that Facebook and Google’s surveillance poses an unprecedented danger to human rights.

The group has now called for the core business model of both companies to be dramatically overhauled.

Due to the mass aggregation of personal data, they claim this is violating people’s right to privacy and restricts freedom of expression.

The rise of big data, and big data analytics, creating a “golden age of surveillance

Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said: “Google and Facebook dominate our modern lives – amassing unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people.

“Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.”1

The far reaching report says that the companies’ surveillance-based business model is inherently incompatible with the right to privacy and poses a threat to a range of other rights including freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of thought, and the right to equality and non-discrimination.


Kumi Nadoo added: “The internet is vital for people to enjoy many of their rights, yet billions of people have no meaningful choice but to access this public space on terms dictated by Facebook and Google

“To make it worse this isn’t the internet people signed up for when these platforms started out. Google and Facebook chipped away at our privacy over time. We are now trapped. Either we must submit to this pervasive surveillance machinery – where our data is easily weaponized to manipulate and influence us – or forego the benefits of the digital world. This can never be a legitimate choice. We must reclaim this essential public square, so we can participate without having our rights abused.”

Amnesty International says that the big tech giants should not be allowed to dictate how we live online and that governments must enact laws to ensure they are prevented from making access to their service conditional on individuals “consenting” to the collection, processing or sharing of their personal data for marketing or advertising.

They also have a responsibility to respect human rights wherever and however they operate.


The in-depth report outlines the business models which allegedly trap the general public into forgoing privacy rights, and calls governments to create more comprehensive privacy frameworks to prevent the harvesting of data. A prominent issue is the conditions placed on accessing these prominent services, Amnesty International does not believe Google and Facebook should be able to deny access if a user does not consent to data collection.


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