• This is a political forum that is non-biased/non-partisan and treats every person's position on topics equally. This debate forum is not aligned to any political party. In today's politics, many ideas are split between and even within all the political parties. Often we find ourselves agreeing on one platform but some topics break our mold. We are here to discuss them in a civil political debate. If this is your first visit to our political forums, be sure to check out the RULES. Registering for debate politics is necessary before posting. Register today to participate - it's free!

John Oliver Blackmails Congress With Their Own Digital Data (1 Viewer)

Nomad4Ever

Dark Brandon Acolyte
Supporting Member
DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 22, 2017
Messages
15,633
Reaction score
23,908
Location
U.S.A.
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Libertarian - Left

"The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host paid shady brokers for lawmakers’ digital histories — promising not to release the info so long as Congress passes legislation protecting all consumers’ data"

The show’s main segment concerned data brokers, the companies that collect your digital data, package it, and sell it to anyone who’s interested — sometimes in bundles based on shared characteristics. Real names of these bundles include “Ambitious Singles,” “Couples With Clout,” and “Kids and Cabernet.” Oliver pointed out that the names also sound like “immediately green-lit shows on TLC.”

Thing is, brokers group people in far less fanciful ways — according to their medical ailments, for instance. Or as “Suffering Seniors” and “Help Needed—I Am 90 Days Behind With Bills.” Last year, Epsilon, one of these ghoulish companies, was forced to pay $150 million in penalties because they’d knowingly sold the data of 30 million people to scammers targeting seniors.
I've posted about this many times on this forum, but mass data collection really is a huge threat to society. Ads and selling the data to scammers are maybe the least worrying uses. We have already seen advertising profiles sold to influence elections and voting patterns like in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Making the mass collection and profiling of consumers illegal is one of the most necessary pieces of legislation that needs to be passed our democracy and society.

He and his staff paid for the data of a subset of individuals with traits that a lot of Congressmen have, and who were online within five miles of the Capitol building. Though Oliver was cagey about what they found, he indicated they were able to identify several specific lawmakers and their potentially problematic search histories. But he didn’t reveal anything more than that. Instead, he indicated that his preferred solution was for lawmakers to pass laws making the release of that kind of personal info illegal.
Hilarious. Honestly I'm almost hope they don't pass anything because I want to see the data they got a hold of. John Oliver yet again putting his platform to incredible civic use.
 
Unlike collecting data, isnt such extortion actually illegal? Sounds like a textbook quid pro quo, but since its Oliver, it may fall under some sort of comedy speech.
 
Unlike collecting data, isnt such extortion actually illegal? Sounds like a textbook quid pro quo, but since its Oliver, it may fall under some sort of comedy speech.
Oh thank god, the mega-corporations had the forethought to make sure to legalize their immoral and socially destabilizing activity before engaging in it.

It's definitely not comedy speech and I hope he leeks the data if they come after him.
 
Unlike collecting data, isnt such extortion actually illegal? Sounds like a textbook quid pro quo, but since its Oliver, it may fall under some sort of comedy speech.
He's not targeting anyone specific, so I'm not sure he can effectively extort someone who doesn't know what he has, if anything, and who hasn't been presented with the information or a definitive "quo". He's addressing 535 people, and I presume the overwhelming majority don't have problematic publicly available data.

And this misses for the forest for the trees. The problem is those data are available for a price and can be used, if effective for extortion by John Oliver, by people who might require significantly more than privacy regulations in return for being silent.
 
Unlike collecting data, isnt such extortion actually illegal? Sounds like a textbook quid pro quo, but since its Oliver, it may fall under some sort of comedy speech.

I don't know. Extortion is typically defined by inducing someone to act in a way they would not by threat of doing something illegal to them. "Give me money or I will burn your business to the ground" is classic extortion.

Is releasing information that they agreed could be sold and used by third parties by the Terms of Service Agreements they signed extortion? I don't think so.

It is no more extortion than saying "If you do not pass X law, our Super-PAC will support your rival in the primary."
 
Oh thank god, the mega-corporations had the forethought to make sure to legalize their immoral and socially destabilizing activity before engaging in it.

It's definitely not comedy speech and I hope he leeks the data if they come after him.

Leaking the data would be legal. Im not sure extorting the US govt is though.
 

"The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host paid shady brokers for lawmakers’ digital histories — promising not to release the info so long as Congress passes legislation protecting all consumers’ data"
Shady? Maybe somewhat immoral but the real shady people are those who sell the information to the data brokers to being with. And he did not promise not to release it. I just watched the episode and nowhere does he say "pass legislation or else".
I've posted about this many times on this forum, but mass data collection really is a huge threat to society. Ads and selling the data to scammers are maybe the least worrying uses. We have already seen advertising profiles sold to influence elections and voting patterns like in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Making the mass collection and profiling of consumers illegal is one of the most necessary pieces of legislation that needs to be passed our democracy and society.


Hilarious. Honestly I'm almost hope they don't pass anything because I want to see the data they got a hold of. John Oliver yet again putting his platform to incredible civic use.
But he did show how fast congress can move to keep their video watching data out of people's hands LOL. When someone asked to see a judges rental history congress was very quick to create a law banning that practice.

And you are right, he exposes those who try and move in the shadows by shining a large spot light on them.
 

"The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host paid shady brokers for lawmakers’ digital histories — promising not to release the info so long as Congress passes legislation protecting all consumers’ data"


I've posted about this many times on this forum, but mass data collection really is a huge threat to society. Ads and selling the data to scammers are maybe the least worrying uses. We have already seen advertising profiles sold to influence elections and voting patterns like in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Making the mass collection and profiling of consumers illegal is one of the most necessary pieces of legislation that needs to be passed our democracy and society.


Hilarious. Honestly I'm almost hope they don't pass anything because I want to see the data they got a hold of. John Oliver yet again putting his platform to incredible civic use.

Yup, but our government works for the rich, and htey are making millions and millions selling our privacy and data. Unlike in Europe, where the government works for the people and there are consumer protections against companies being able to sell you data. it's indefensible but tha'ts the US, land of the greedy, and a government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation
 
Leaking the data would be legal. Im not sure extorting the US govt is though.
I really don't care if it is legal or not, though I'm sure they did their research before conducting such actions.

Aren't you a libertarian? Who cares if we pressure our politicians into passing privacy laws that protect us from corporations and the government.
 
Last edited:
Unlike collecting data, isnt such extortion actually illegal? Sounds like a textbook quid pro quo, but since its Oliver, it may fall under some sort of comedy speech.
He hasn't identified a specific individual to extort, so "may possibly extort some nonspecific person in the future" isn't going to hold up in court.

Edit: Also, a quick google suggests that gaining "money or property" is part of the extortion definition, and this doesn't apply here. I'm not a lawyer though and some other specific statutes may apply anyway.

Edit2: I suppose the proposed legislative action could be interpreted as "affecting interstate or foreign commerce" so may fit the extortion criteria but we're stretching.
 
Last edited:
I do think that there is a problem with this aggregation of personal data through data mining and packaging. The 4th should be expanded to include our digital footprints as part of our papers.

But I'm not sure extorting Congress is a good way to go about it.
 
I do think that there is a problem with this aggregation of personal data through data mining and packaging. The 4th should be expanded to include our digital footprints as part of our papers.

But I'm not sure extorting Congress is a good way to go about it.
He doesn't appear to have reached any legal definition of extortion, and I suspect HBO's lawyers are savvy enough to know exactly where that line is.

And isn't that kinda the point? "Here's a bunch of shit we can do that is totally legal, and yet every single person hearing about it knows it shouldn't be."
 
I don't know. Extortion is typically defined by inducing someone to act in a way they would not by threat of doing something illegal to them. "Give me money or I will burn your business to the ground" is classic extortion.

Is releasing information that they agreed could be sold and used by third parties by the Terms of Service Agreements they signed extortion? I don't think so.

It is no more extortion than saying "If you do not pass X law, our Super-PAC will support your rival in the primary."

True, there is an element of illegality required.
 
I really don't care if it is legal or not, though I'm sure they did their research before conducting such actions.

Aren't you a libertarian? Who cares if we pressure our politicians into passing privacy laws that protect us from corporations and the government.

A libertarian doesnt pressure people in passing MORE Laws.
 
A libertarian doesnt pressure people in passing MORE Laws.
If you don't support laws protecting civil and individual liberties, then you don't support those rights. Since you don't think the government should have laws protecting our liberties I'm sure you are against the grave government overreach protecting freedom of speech or the 2A.

Seriously, I'm not sure how you've managed to turn the government passing a law that would limit it's own ability to collect data on private citizens as excessive government lawmaking.
 
If you don't support laws protecting civil and individual liberties, then you don't support those rights. Since you don't think the government should have laws protecting our liberties I'm sure you are against the grave government overreach protecting freedom of speech or the 2A.

Seriously, I'm not sure how you've managed to turn the government passing a law that would limit it's own ability to collect data on private citizens as excessive government lawmaking.

The story is about consumer data, not citizen data. If you want to narrow the legislation to protecting citizens from govt (civil liberty) then libertarians would be for it. We certainly would not be for govt passing laws telling a company what it can do with the information it collects. You dont have a civil right to not have someone else write down what you voluntarily bought from them and then tell someone else.
 
I don't know. Extortion is typically defined by inducing someone to act in a way they would not by threat of doing something illegal to them. "Give me money or I will burn your business to the ground" is classic extortion.

Is releasing information that they agreed could be sold and used by third parties by the Terms of Service Agreements they signed extortion? I don't think so.

It is no more extortion than saying "If you do not pass X law, our Super-PAC will support your rival in the primary."

They will only comply if they believe there's something in their data they don't want the voters to know.
 
He hasn't identified a specific individual to extort, so "may possibly extort some nonspecific person in the future" isn't going to hold up in court.

Edit: Also, a quick google suggests that gaining "money or property" is part of the extortion definition, and this doesn't apply here. I'm not a lawyer though and some other specific statutes may apply anyway.

Edit2: I suppose the proposed legislative action could be interpreted as "affecting interstate or foreign commerce" so may fit the extortion criteria but we're stretching.
Oliver has a crew of lawyers, they would not have allowed this if it was illegal…
 
Unlike collecting data, isnt such extortion actually illegal? Sounds like a textbook quid pro quo, but since its Oliver, it may fall under some sort of comedy speech.
Since it is a well known fact that <SARC>each and every single Representative and Senator is a highly ethical, totally honest, morally irreproachable, person who has never done a single thing in their entire lives that could even remotely be twisted so that it sort of resembles something that looks like it might be similar to an action that even the most upright and puritanical person in the United States of America could potentially find even slightly less than 100% laudable</SARC>, I don't see what the problem is.
 
Yeah, I'm certain they went over every line of the script with a microscope. They didn't shoot this from the hip.
And he has good lawyers, unlike a certain ex president who has left a trail of disbarred lawyers behind him…
 
And he has good lawyers, unlike a certain ex president who has left a trail of disbarred lawyers behind him…
Even lawyers with experience specifically with "things you can get in legal trouble for broadcasting" because, well, HBO.
 
Unlike collecting data, isnt such extortion actually illegal? Sounds like a textbook quid pro quo, but since its Oliver, it may fall under some sort of comedy speech.
I think they'd have to specifically target individuals rather than vaguely mentioning that some people they had yet to identify in the capitol were in the folder.

Also at this point, the lawyers for their show have to be good at this kind of thing, so it's probably fine.
 
I don't know. Extortion is typically defined by inducing someone to act in a way they would not by threat of doing something illegal to them. "Give me money or I will burn your business to the ground" is classic extortion.

Is releasing information that they agreed could be sold and used by third parties by the Terms of Service Agreements they signed extortion? I don't think so.

It is no more extortion than saying "If you do not pass X law, our Super-PAC will support your rival in the primary."


****ing with people's lives at a level that falls just short of extortion is legal, yes I do see the point you're making, but why am I still feeling extorted, and why is half the country
jumping around like puppets on a string?
It's NOT illegal but it's immoral enough to merit being an ass-kicking offense and these companies believe that they can hide from consumers by just saying "We're not breaking any laws!"

The reason Mister Haney's character is so funny is because once upon a time society never would have tolerated a guy like that for long.
This is not Mister Haney, it's Mister Haney's steroid enhanced army.
Cambridge Analytica is causing innocent people real pain, and damage.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top Bottom