En una discusión abierta con el historiador y escritor de origen israelí, Yuval Noah Harari, el CEO de Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, expuso la amenaza que representan los gobiernos autoritarios que pretenden obtener datos privados de los usuarios “a la fuerza”.

El ejecutivo destacó el compromiso de la red social de no almacenar datos confidenciales en estos países, sin mencionar ningún gobierno en particular. En este sentido, Zuckerberg afirmó:

Más países siguen el enfoque de regímenes autoritarios que adoptan políticas estrictas de localización de datos donde los gobiernos pueden acceder más fácilmente a los datos de las personas, y estoy muy preocupado por ese futuro (…)  si nos bloqueamos en un país importante, eso perjudicará a nuestra comunidad y nuestro negocio. Pero nuestros principios sobre la localización de datos no son nuevos y esto siempre ha sido un riesgo.

En la conversación, registrada en video y publicada a través de un comunicado de Facebook, también se tocaron temas como la fragmentación de la sociedad a causa de Interne y el desarrollo de la Inteligencia Artificial (IA). Sin embargo, dados los recientes escándalos de seguridad y privacidad de Facebook, el almacenamiento de datos privados de los usuarios fue el tema de mayor interés para Noah Harari.

Zuckerberg dijo que si Facebook decide impedir que cualquier gobierno autoritario acceda a los datos confidenciales y abandonar un país, esto perjudicará a la comunidad de la red social y a su negocio. Pero para el ejecutivo esta situación siempre ha representado un riesgo que la compañía está dispuesta a asumir.

China y Rusia ya cuentan con leyes para localizar los datos personales de los usuarios de las plataformas de tecnología, regulaciones que podrían también ser adoptadas por otros países ante las preocupaciones recientes sobre el tema de la privacidad. Uno de los ejemplos más recientes se ha presentado en Alemania, donde el gobierno ahora exige que los metadatos de los sitios de telecomunicaciones se almacenen en servidores locales, mientras que La India actualmente solicita algo similar con los datos de pagos.

This week I talked with Yuval Noah Harari as part of my series of discussions on the future of technology and society. He's a historian and author of Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Lessons For the 21st Century. Many historians focus on the past but Yuval has a unique perspective on how technology will shape the future, and that's what we spent most of our time on. We discussed things like whether the internet is connecting or fragmenting society, the different ways artificial intelligence could be developed, how algorithms will continue to impact people's lives, and why it is so important that we don't store sensitive data in countries with weak rule of law or where governments can forcibly get access to that data. Thanks Yuval for such a memorable conversation. I've included a transcript of a few of my thoughts below, lightly edited for clarity:Minute 39:27: When I look towards the future, one of the things that I just get very worried about is the values that I just laid out [for the internet and data] are not values that all countries share. And when you get into some of the more authoritarian countries and their data policies, they're very different from the kind of regulatory frameworks that across Europe and across a lot of other places, people are talking about or put into place. Recently I've come out and I've been very vocal that I think that more countries should adopt a privacy framework like GDPR in Europe. And a lot of people I think have been confused about this. They're like, “Why are you arguing for more privacy regulation? Why now given that in the past you weren't as positive on it?” And I think part of the reason why I am so focused on this now is at this point people around the world recognize these questions around data and AI and technology are important, so there's going to be a [regulatory] framework in every country. I actually think the bigger question is what is it going to be? And the most likely alternative to each country adopting something that encodes the freedoms and rights of something like GDPR, in my mind, is the authoritarian model, which is currently being spread, which says every company needs to store everyone's data locally in data centers and then, if I'm a government, I can send my military there and get access to whatever data I want and take that for surveillance or military. I just think that that's a really bad future. And that's not the direction, as someone who's building one of these internet services, or just as a citizen of the world, I want to see the world going. —In response to Yuval playing devil's advocate and asking about non-authoritarian governments adopting data localization policies… Minute 45:53: I think someone with good intent might argue, "Hey, maybe a different set of data policies is something that we should consider." The thing that I worry about, and what we've seen, is that once a country puts that in place, it’s a precedent that a lot of other countries that might be more authoritarian use to basically argue that they should do the same things and then that spreads. And I think that's bad. And that's one of the things that as the person running this company, I'm quite committed to making sure that we play our part in pushing back on that and keeping the internet as one platform. One of the most important decisions that I think I get to make as the person running this company, is where we’re going to build our data centers and store data. And we've made the decision that we're not going to put data centers in countries that we think have weak rule of law, where people's data may be improperly accessed which could put people in harm's way. There have been a lot of questions around the world around censorship and I think that those are really serious and important. A lot of the reason why we build what we build is because I care about giving everyone a voice, giving people as much voice as possible, so I don't want people to be censored. At some level, these questions around data and how it's used and whether authoritarian governments get access to it I think are even more sensitive because, if you can't say something that you want, that is highly problematic, that violates your human rights. I think in a lot of cases it stops progress. But if a government can get access to your data, then it can identify who you are and go lock you up and hurt you and your family and cause real physical harm in ways that are just really deep. So I do think that people running these companies have an obligation to try to push back on that and fight establishing precedents which will be harmful. Even if a lot of the initial countries that are talking about some of this have good intent, I think that this can easily go off the rails. And when you talk about in the future AI and data, which are two concepts that are just really tied together, I think the values where they come from and whether they’re part of a more global system, a more democratic process, a more open process — that's one of our best hopes for having this work out well. If it comes from repressive or authoritarian countries, then I just think that that's going to be highly problematic in a lot of ways.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, April 26, 2019