• 2020-11-19     
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The $5bn fine for Facebook by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—assuming it is approved by the Department of Justice—is both eye-catching and sets a new record. The fine follows an investigation which began last March, triggered by the Cambridge Analytica case in which personal information was leaked to a political consultancy through a third party. Using fines to encourage better privacy protection is a questionable strategy. If they become seen as the cost of carrying on with business as usual, the FTC will be undermined.

The banking sector’s treatment after the financial crisis does not give cause for hope. As with Facebook, regulators there failed to act until the damage was plain to see. Faced with overwhelming public pressure, they hurriedly applied hefty financial penalties to make up for it. Over a decade on from the global financial crisis, many of the fundamental ways in which banks operate remain worryingly unchanged.


Over the past five years the utopianism that initially prevailed around the digital economy has been replaced by a “techlash”. Digital groups have transformed the way companies work and offered more choice for consumers. But the focus now is on getting tech companies to change their structure and behaviour, rather than price fines into their business models.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic presidential hopeful, has proposed breaking up companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon. In Germany, Facebook’s attempt to pool data from across its platforms without user consent was blocked. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is launching a formal investigation into Amazon’s data practices and how it wears two hats, as a retailer and a marketplace for rivals.

Antitrust actions would reduce the risks that combined data sets from different platforms pose to privacy. Criminal sanctions for top executives, perhaps including jail time, may ultimately be necessary to achieve genuine changes in conduct. Until now, very few have faced any meaningful penalties for their actions. While the “move fast and break things” mentality may be embedded in these companies, the risk of personal consequences could act as a serious deterrent.

Even with its $5bn settlement, Facebook’s commitment to changing its ways when it comes to protecting user data and privacy remains dubious. Making big data companies more sensitive to privacy will require changing their relationship with data. Ensuring that happens needs measures and sanctions that go well beyond fines. There is no turning back.

26. The $5bn fine for Facebook ______.

[A] triggered a lawsuit against Cambridge Analytica

[B] may be useless in protecting privacy better

[C] might be a result of a political conspiracy

[D] will undermine its international credibility

27. Which of the following is true according to Paragraph 2?

[A] Banks was punished harsher than Facebook.

[B] The public was overwhelmed with hopelessness.

[C] Regulators’ measure turned out to be a failure.

[D] The global financial crisis lasted for a decade.

28. The word “techlash” (Para. 3) most probably means .

[A] technology-push innovation

[B] fever for digital-based industry

[C] technological unemployment

[D] resistance to tech companies

29. To achieve genuine changes in conduct, the author suggests .

[A] breaking up major technology companies

[B] carrying out more intensive investigations

[C] collecting data sets from different platforms

[D] imposing criminal penalties on executives

30. Which of the following would be the best title of the text?

[A] Fines Alone Cannot Keep Big Tech in Check

[B] FTC’ Fine Sparks the Great Privacy Awaking

[C] Cambridge Analytica: A Case Study for Privacy Protection

[D] Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: A Scandal for Tech Giants






【解析】本题为细节题。根据题干关键词The $5bn fine for Facebook可定位到第一段。本段可分为两层:①②句介绍罚款的相关背景,③④句提出论点。③句指出,用罚款促进更好的隐私保护是一个值得怀疑的策略,B项may be useless in protecting privacy better(对更好地保护隐私可能无效)是③句的同义改写。故正确答案为B。

【干扰项】A项利用②句中的triggered by the Cambridge Analytica case进行干扰,但将原文中的triggered by(被动)改为triggered(主动)。C项利用②句中的political(政治)一词进行干扰,但原文根本没提到conspiracy(阴谋)。D项利用④句中的undermined(损害)一词进行干扰,但原文说的是FTC将受到损害,而非D项提到的Facebook。


【解析】本题为推断题。题干除了Paragraph 2,没有其他可定位信息,故从选项出发,一一回原文比对。③④句指出,监管机构对银行实施了巨额罚款,但十多年来,银行的许多基本经营方式仍未改变,C项是对③④句的总结。故正确答案为C。

【干扰项】A项Banks was punished harsher than Facebook(银行受到的惩罚比Facebook更严厉)并无原文根据。B项hopelessness利用①句中的does not give cause for hope进行干扰,但原文并没提到the public(大众)。D项The global financial crisis lasted for a decade(全球金融危机持续了十年)是对④句Over a decade on from the global financial crisis(全球金融危机爆发10多年来)的曲解。


【解析】本题为词义句意题。根据题干关键词techlash可定位到第三段①句,本句指出,最初围绕数字经济的utopianism 已被techlash取代,可知techlash与utopianism含义相反。utopianism(乌托邦主义)指受人欢迎的完美的理想,所以techlash应该是贬义的,不受欢迎的,D项resistance to tech companies(对科技公司的抵制)正确。(解法二)①句与②③句之间是总分关系。②句指出:过去科技公司给社会带来繁荣和希望(对应utopianism ),③句指出:但现在的焦点是促使科技公司改变(对应techlash)。故正确答案为D。

【干扰项】A项利用②句transformed the way companies work(改变了企业运作方式)编造出 innovation(创新)。B项fever for digital-based industry(对科技产业的狂热)是反向干扰。C项中的unemployment是无中生有。


【解析】本题为细节题。根据题干关键词To achieve genuine changes in conduct定位到第五段②句:对科技公司高管进行刑事处罚,或许包括监禁,可能是让这些公司真正改变做法最终所必需的,D项imposing criminal penalties on executives(对高管实施刑事处罚)是其同义表达。故正确答案为D。

【干扰项】A项breaking up major technology companies(拆分大科技公司)源自第四段①句breaking up companies,但这是Elizabeth Warren的提议。B项investigations(调查)源自第四段③句launching a formal investigation,但这是Margrethe Vestager目前的行为。C项中的data sets from different platforms(不同平台的数据集)源自第五段①句,但这不是作者的建议。


【解析】本题为主旨大意题。本文首段由“对Facebook的50亿美元罚单”引出话题,并在段末提出全文论点:用罚款促进更好的隐私保护是一个值得怀疑的策略。A项Fines Alone Cannot Keep Big Tech in Check(只靠罚款无法约束大型科技公司)是这一含义的概括总结。故正确答案为A。

【干扰项】B项中的Privacy虽然在文中多处有所提及,但并非文章中心。C项与D项中的Cambridge Analytica只在第一段中作为背景出现过,不是主旨。


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