The fight to get tech giants to reveal their data is coming to a head in Congress

Historically, tech companies have tightly guarded the information coveted by policymakers and scholars, who say it could shed light on the industry’s opaque practices.

In recent congressional testimony, Laura Edelson, Ph.D. candidate and one of the researchers whose account was recently disabled by Facebook, urged lawmakers to consider requiring platforms to make all their ads publicly accessible. She also suggested granting a “safe harbor” to researchers who collect data from the sites, to “clarify the legality” of their work. Edelson mentioned that she has been working with other researchers to develop a “technical standard for how all major digital ad platforms could make all of their ads publicly transparent.”

Lawmakers said Congress will need to weigh the merits of greater access to data against concerns about trampling on users’ privacy and disclosing private companies’ proprietary data.