AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced another round of questions on Capitol Hill today, this time by House members. One big issue - what is Facebook doing to protect its users' personal data? Here's how Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn put it.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MARSHA BLACKBURN: Who do you think owns an individual's presence online? Who owns their virtual you? Is it you, or is it them?
MARK ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I believe that everyone owns their own content online, and that's - the first line of our terms of service, if you read it, says that.
BLACKBURN: And where does privacy rank as a corporate value for Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, giving people control of their information and how they want to set their privacy is foundational to the whole service.
CORNISH: Republican Congressman Bob Latta also put some questions to Zuckerberg. He's chairman of the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. He spoke with us earlier today.
BOB LATTA: Well, thank you very much for having me.
CORNISH: Facebook essentially landed on the Hill because of the political firm Cambridge Analytica and the discovery that it had gained access to data from Facebook customers or consumers. You asked the question about how long it will take to audit the tens and thousands of apps that have access to data - right? - in the same way that Cambridge Analytica was able to gain access. Were you satisfied with Mark Zuckerberg's answer?
LATTA: Well, you know, again, it's finding out - first I asked him the question - is, how many apps are out there that you're going to have to look at and really go through and to audit and then to turn around to them and say, how much time is it going to take? Well, you know, his answer was, they have tens of thousands of apps out there, and it's going to take months. So the question is - I'm not really sure we did get a good, clear answer on that because, again, you're looking at how fast they can get through these things. But it's going to take time. But people want to make sure that this information is secure out there and want to have, you know, that expectation of privacy when they're on Facebook.
CORNISH: Europe has put in place new, stronger privacy protection laws. For the U.S. Congress, are you thinking that regulation is the answer?
LATTA: Well, on the regulatory side, again, this is what these hearings are for. Do we have the regulations and laws in place right now that we can work from? But I think it's important that, you know - again, with Facebook right now, there's a 2011 FTC order out there that they have to comply with and that the FTC's looking at that right now to see if they have complied with that. And so I think that, you know, first of all, we - it's important for Congress to get all the information out there before we want, you know - start saying, well, we got - we need to do this or do that on the legislative side. We've got to have all the facts.
CORNISH: So your answer is wait, and see. You want to hear what the Federal Trade Commission says before anyone makes a move towards trying any regulation.
LATTA: Well, and, again - and it's important that, you know, we have that. But again, at the same time, we have folks who want to make sure that their information's secure. And that's, again, seeing where Facebook. Is Facebook going to make this commitment to go in there to make sure that information is not scraped, that - you know, again, that 87 million people find out that they've had their information out there? And then, you know, it could be that they said that maybe everybody might have information out there someplace.
CORNISH: I'm asking because I think there are constituents...
CORNISH: ...Who think that Congress is doing this for show, and they don't expect to see any action items come out of it.
LATTA: No, no because, again, it's a very - it's important because, again, you're talking about 2.1 billion users out there that use Facebook, from business to government - you name it - the individuals that are all using it. And we want to make sure that, first of all, A, are the laws on the books sufficient - what we have right now? And if they're not, then we have to move forward from there. So that's the whole idea of these hearings in the Senate and the House - is to get the information. And then we go forward from there.
CORNISH: Bob Latta is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. Congressman, thank you for speaking with us.
LATTA: Well, thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.