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Google, Facebook Surveillance Business Models Threat To Human Rights: Amnesty

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Facebook and Google's omnipresent surveillance of billions of people poses a systemic threat to human rights, Amnesty International warned in a report published on Thursday.

The surveillance-based data-collection business model of the tech giants is incompatible with the right to privacy and poses a systemic threat to a range of other rights including freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of thought, and the right to equality and non-discrimination, Amnesty said in the report titled Surveillance Giants.

The London-based human rights watchdog called for a radical transformation of the tech giants' core business model, and to move to an internet that has human rights at its core.

While other Big Tech companies - including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft - have accrued significant power in other areas, it is the platforms owned by Facebook and Google that have become fundamental to the people's channels of communication.

Amnesty alleged that the tech giants offer these services to billions without charging users a fee. Instead, individuals pay for the services with their personal data, being constantly tracked across the web and in the physical world as well, for example, through connected devices.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed how easily people's data can be misused in unforeseen ways with the aim of manipulating and influencing them.

Amnesty urged Governments to urgently take action to overhaul the surveillance-based business model and protect the online community from corporate human rights abuses, including through the enforcement of robust data protection laws and effective regulation of Big Tech in line with human rights law.

As a first step, governments must enact laws to ensure companies including Google and Facebook 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" said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

The organization said Facebook and Google disputed its findings. The companies' responses are included in the report.

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