The news has been abuzz over the last few days regarding Facebook, the Cambridge Analytica breach, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress. I’ve been following his testimony on Capitol Hill and, as I’ve been watching, these two biblical concepts have stood out:
1. Purpose of government
2. Evil heart of man
For believers, it should come as no surprise that deep down in their core, in their heart-of-hearts, all men are evil. The Bible tells us as much:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
We’re all sinners in rebellion against God who need the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. Apart from the redemptive work of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we’re filled with all kinds of evil and darkness.
And since companies are made up of men and women, all companies are inherently evil. They may have been created to fulfill a good purpose, and they may provide good services or products, and they may even operate on good moral principles, but they are still inherently evil because the dark heart of man is behind them. Now, throw into that mix companies creating software that affects 2 billion of the people on the planet and you have the makings of an absolutely horrific mess.
Should companies like Facebook be held accountable for what they’re doing? Absolutely! Just like a construction company that builds a bridge is accountable for their design and workmanship, so should software companies be held accountable for what they choose to do with their software and how that software operates.
The problem we’re facing now, is that we don’t have any policies (that I’m aware of) set up in this country that require inspections on software, like we do on bridges. This allows software companies to largely do what they like without being accountable to anyone.
Part of the problem is that, by using free products and services like Facebook, we’re giving them a great deal of power. But we aren’t paying for what we’re using so guess what we’ve become? The product. This quote, attributed to Andrew Lewis, really sums it up:
If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.
Nothing is truly free. It always comes at a cost and, in this case, the cost is our personal information and our privacy.
While I certainly do not like most government policies, I do recognize the biblical mandate that the governments exist to help us live peaceably with all men (Romans 13:1–7). There needs to be policies that require software makers of all kinds to pass rigorous inspections, just as we expect from those who construct our buildings and bridges. Certainly protecting personal privacy is part of helping us live peaceably.
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