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Turkey Charges Ahead In Northern Syria Against U.S. Allies; British And Irish Prime Minister Met Behind Closed Doors To Make An Agreement; The Latest Brexit Developments; UK Prime Minister Meets with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Fighting for People's Privacy; Consumer Privacy. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 10, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:17] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.

Turkey charges ahead in Northern Syria against U.S. allies. President Trump's decision to remove troops has caused a revolt in his own base, just

when he needs them to fight impeachment. I talk to veteran U.S. Foreign Service officer, retired diplomat, Nancy McEldowney.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement, to have a treaty.


AMANPOUR: The clock is ticking on Brexit with three weeks to go, Boris Johnson's last-ditch attempt to make a deal with Ireland. We hear from a

former Irish prime minister, John Bruton. And --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, you'd be terrified if you knew how much we knew about everybody.


AMANPOUR: Alastair Mactaggart reveals a disturbing chat he had with a Google engineer. Harris Trinovasan (ph) digs into digital privacy with the

real estate agents who spearheaded America's toughest privacy law.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Smoke is billowing over Northern Syria as Turkey's offensive against

American allies enters its second day. The death toll is climbing. And back in Washington, President Trump faces a barrage of criticism for his

decision to remove troops from that area to effectively clear the way for Turkey's incursion against those ISIS-fighting Kurds.

Trump says that he likes the Kurds, but he downplayed their help, even though their decisive role in fighting and dying for the allies against

ISIS is well documented. The sad story of the Kurdish people is one of repeated betrayal by the United States, starting all the way back in the

1970s when Henry Kissinger was secretary of state and going on at least until the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

Today, the Kurds say they feel completely abandoned and top U.S. Military officials worry that Trump's decision will allow ISIS to rise again. The

uproar in Washington and among key sectors of Trump's base is splintering his own party just as he faces his biggest domestic battle yet,


For three decades, in the Foreign Service, Nancy McEldowney served Republican and Democratic administrations, including as ambassador to

Bulgaria and also as a policy adviser on Europe during the Clinton administration. She was a colleague of the ousted U.S. envoy to Ukraine,

Marie Yovanovitch, who is expected to testify in the impeachment probe this week. Nancy McEldowney, welcome to the program from Washington.


AMANPOUR: So, let us ask you the key question, obviously, let's get your take on what does seem to be just an extraordinary move by the President to

allow American allies to essentially be at the mercy of their enemies in Turkey.

MCELDOWNEY: I think it's more than extraordinary. I have to say, I think the decision that Trump took in this case is both shocking and shameful.

This is not how one treats allies, people who have fought and died with us in a common mission.

And it really, it's nothing -- you cannot say anything other than the fact that this is a betrayal of our Kurdish allies who have helped us in this

very important fight against ISIS, but it has larger implications as well. It shows that America under Trump's leadership is an untrustworthy ally.

The implications throughout the coalition against ISIS as well as around the world are going to be very significant.

But it's also going to set back our fight against ISIS, and it has, I think, a real significant possibility of further destabilizing the region

and potentially opening up Israel to pressure from both Iran and Russia.

AMANPOUR: And actually, basically, handing Syria back to or to Iran, Russia, and Assad. When you see what the Turkish government is saying and

how much -- I mean, they told us last night, you know, they're clearing a, I believe 400-long sector of the border and 20 kilometers -- 400 long and

20 kilometers deep, what does that mean in practical terms for people there? There must be millions of people in that area anyway, tens of

thousands of ISIS dependents, at least 11,000 ISIS fighters in captivity. What does it mean practically?

[13:05:00] MCELDOWNEY: The implications are horrific. And retired four- star general, marine general, John Allen, who used to command our forces in Afghanistan, has called the situation complete chaos. With that wide swath

of territory that the Turks are now trying to clear out, civilians will be displaced.

I expect there will be a great of loss of life, both of civilians as well as of the Kurdish forces. But there's a larger and even more significant

threat that this poses. There are 10,000 ISIS detainees in facilities throughout that region. The U.S. has already moved two of the most

threatening. But that leaves many more.

How are those people going to continue to be detained? How are they going to be managed and not be enabled to present a threat again? This whole

situation is extreme, it is alarming, it is undermining our national security as well as regional stability.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned what General John Allen said. He said it on our show here yesterday, and I had asked him, but what were the Turks meant to

think in the face of President Trump's phone call, the tweets, the counter tweets? And he did say that it was chaos, and he went on to explain.

We're just going to play the sound bite.

Well, basically, what he said was, you know, chaos, but he also said, we cannot-- this is what happens when you do foreign policy by tweet. What

you get when you have a single phone call between world leaders and when they put the phone down, no further coordination within the U.S.

government. I mean, you have been an ambassador. You have been a policy adviser. You're a career diplomat. What are the dangers of this, you

know, leader-to-leader discussion, as General Allen says, with no system to be able to advise the President about what he might say, what he might


MCELDOWNEY: Presidents have always had conversations with their counterparts around the world. What is different now is that President

Trump behaves in an erratic and impulsive manner, taking decisions off the cuff. He is often, almost consistently rejects any deliberative process

where people with expertise can come forward and talk about the risks, talk about the challenges, explain the background of something so that he can

take an informed decision.

He rejects all of that, frequently gives it the back of his hand. There are no interagency meetings, there is no deliberative process, and then

often, what happens? We've seen it now. We've seen it many times in the past. When he is in discussion with an autocratic strongman leader, he

finds that irresistible and often ends up agreeing to whatever they ask for. This is really scandalous, this decision that he's taken.

AMANPOUR: And then, of course, you know, he did try to walk it back a little bit by threatening to destroy Turkey's economy and doing things like

that, but clearly it had no impact. In fact, the United States said it was going to close the air space over that region to deny Turks the use of

their air force. That also didn't happen because we've seen the air strikes led this incursion.

Now, on the back of that, also, President Erdogan is throwing down the gauntlet to Europe and the United States. He basically said, you know,

hey, European Union, come to your senses. Look, I will say this once again, if you try to label our current operation as an occupation, our job

becomes easier. We'll just open the doors and send the 3.6 million refugees to you. Of course, he's referring to the fact that Turkey does

have the biggest number of Syrian refugees, and of course, is being paid by the E.U. to do that currently. But what about that threat?

MCELDOWNEY: Well, the threat is something that I think actually Erdogan is serious about and will likely carry through on because he does not want to

be criticized for this move. But it is obvious to the world what has happened here. Trump gave Erdogan a green light to go in. Erdogan is

going in and cleaning up against the Kurds, which he has a longstanding animosity toward, and he is also trying to get a foothold, trying to

strengthen his position in the region overall.

As I said at the outset, this is both shocking and scandalous, and this is not one of those flaps that is going to end in a matter of a few days or a

few weeks. There will be longstanding repercussions, and I fear very significant loss of life as well as a diminishment of American national

security and that of our allies throughout the region, and frankly, in Europe.

AMANPOUR: You know, as I mentioned, the United States has not had a distinguished relationship with the Kurds over decades and decades at all-

important moments, and some of them I've covered. The Kurds have been betrayed and sold down the river by the United States, by the presidents,

by the secretaries of state.

[13:10:10] And now, American forces, Special Forces, have been fighting alongside the YPG, the Kurdish forces, in this joint effort to destroy and

defeat ISIS. For the last five years, on the ground there. And we're hearing that many officers, many commanders, are very angry about this

move, and I quote, I very rarely quote Fox News, but I do it because it's a strong media arm and media ally of the President that a contributor on Fox

News by the name of Jennifer Griffin, spoke to some U.S. Special Forces on the ground fighting alongside who have been moved out of the way.

And this one says to her, "I am ashamed for the first time in my career." I mean, that's hard. That -- it takes something bad for an American

serviceperson to say "I'm ashamed for the first time in my career."

MCELDOWNEY: It does, indeed. And I have worked with the U.S. military throughout the course of my career. In fact, I'm from a military family.

My father was a marine. My husband sat nuclear alert. My brother-in-law was Special Forces in Vietnam. And for military officers, and indeed, for

career diplomats, to talk about a shameful decision from the U.S. President indicates the extent to which we have entered into new and very dangerous

territory in terms of our foreign policy, our global diplomacy, and frankly, what's happening here at home.

AMANPOUR: Well, I want to get to what's happening there at home where you are, and also just to point out that the President obviously says what many

Americans believe, and that is, American forces have been engaged for far too long overseas in these endless wars and they want to bring the troops

back, absolutely right.

But only several, perhaps a couple of dozen, have been moved out of the way in this area, and there are many hundreds of American troops still left in

Syria, so that continues. The policy has not ended there. But I want to ask you about the situation at home. And of course, this Syria decision on

the back of the controversy, the scandal, the impeachment inquiry now into a phone call, yet another phone call between President Trump and yet

another leader, the president of Ukraine.

And I want to ask you the bit that you're involved in, and that is defending your colleague, the former U.S. ambassador now to Ukraine, Marie

Yovanovitch, who was fired by the President and was mentioned in this transcript, in the call with President Zelensky. She is meant to be

testifying. First and foremost, do you think she will testify? We saw the E.U. ambassador was barred of by the White House from testifying last week.

MCELDOWNEY: I certainly hope she is given the opportunity to testify. She is scheduled to do so tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see whether the

White House decides to block her in the same way that it blocked the E.U. ambassador just moments he was supposed to testify.

But the thing that has rankled so many people about what has happened in this circumstance is that Ambassador Yovanovitch is one of the most

experienced and respected ambassadors serving in our diplomatic corps today. She is someone who is known as being a straight arrow, always

worked by the book. She's received awards, ironically, an award for promoting anti-corruption after a flawed presidential election in Armenia.

And I think that there is a certain irony there but also, perhaps, not a mistake. The fact that Yovanovitch has been both removed from her position

but also publicly condemned by the President and his cronies is a real disgrace in terms of how this President treats the career federal service,

the public servants who have worked so hard for our country.

But it also says terrible things about the rest of the federal service, about all of our diplomats who now are operating in an environment of

extreme fear inside the State Department, fear of retribution, but I've even heard that there's talk about some American ambassadors questioning

whether they should pursue anti-corruption efforts in their countries because they don't know if they'll run afoul of yet another dirty scheme

that's being run in their country.

AMANPOUR: OK. Can we just, you know, sort of hit that nail on the head? Because President Trump's defense is that he was on the phone trying to

insist on anti-corruption, you know, combating corruption in Ukraine.

MCELDOWNEY: Well, what I saw and I have no inside knowledge. I've only read the transcript as you have. But what it looked very clearly like to

me is that he was setting up an exchange, you look into the Biden's, you look into this particular company as well as what happened in the 2016

election, and then I will agree to do other things to include release military aid and meet with you at the White House.

[13:15:26] For many years, the United States agenda in Ukraine has been anti-corruption, and that, my understanding, is exactly what Yovanovitch

was doing in her course of her duties as ambassador. What she ran afoul of was the scheme that appears to be have been run by Rudy Giuliani and others

to do something, I don't know exactly what, but to convince the Ukrainians to try to come on to their agenda.

And, you know, when you think about the circumstance of Ukraine, it's an occupied country. The President is newly elected, a political novice who

used to be a comedian. Looks to the United States for guidance and advice, and this is what he encounters.

AMANPOUR: You wrote a letter. I don't know whether you've met with Ambassador Yovanovitch since she's come back, have you, talked about this


MCELDOWNEY: I met with her early, yeah, I met with her early after her return. But I have not discussed the situation or any of the details with


AMANPOUR: You did join with other Foreign Service professionals in writing a public letter in support to the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. You

said, "We call upon you to follow the procedures and standards of the U.S. Department of State and to ensure that our country's professional Foreign

Service officers who swear an oath to uphold the constitution never suffer retaliation for political reasons."

Have you had a response from the secretary of state? Are you concerned? I mean, you believe that she's had -- she's been fired for political reasons.

Do you think that your message now is getting through to the secretary of state?

MCELDOWNEY: Well, we've certainly not had a reply from Secretary Pompeo or from anyone else in the administration. But this letter that was signed by

over 50 former ambassadors has also been joined by other statements from the American academy of diplomacy, the American Foreign Service

Association, all of them speaking out both because they know what a consummate professional Yovanovitch is, but also, it speaks to a larger

issue about undermining the apolitical and nonpartisan nature of our diplomatic corps and of our Federal Service across the board.

I think Secretary Pompeo owes it to all of the people who work in the State Department to address this issue publicly, but also to talk about what did

the President mean when he said to the Ukrainian president that Yovanovitch was going to go through some things when she came back? What kind of

reprisal did he have in mind?

And what assurances do we have now when Pompeo is on the record asserting that the phone call was completely appropriate, saying, this is what we do

in the State Department. I can assure you, in my 30 years of professional experience that is not what American diplomats do. We are a nonpartisan,

apolitical service that works for both the Democrat and Republican presidents, and suggesting otherwise undermines the professional ethos and

the institutional integrity of this very important place.

You know, in the lobby of the U.S. State Department, there's a plaque of names of people who have died in the line of duty. There are hundreds of

names on that plaque, and not one of them died to advance the career of an individual politician. If Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump are suggesting

that's what American diplomacy is about now, I think they're going to find that this is something that will accrue not only very much to the

destruction of the integrity of the State Department, but it will also undermine the very foundation of what we're doing as a Federal Service and

our democracy.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then, back in 2017, you wrote, when you resigned, you wrote an essential advice to members of your profession,

diplomats in the United States who serve around the world. You entitled this article "how to work with a president who loathes the civil service,"

and your tips included, and this is very important right now, hold the high ground, speak up and out, don't leak but do blow the whistle.

I mean, there is a whistle-blower law, and it applies to State Department officials as well. So, you wrote that in 2017. Do you still hold by it,

given all the stuff that's happening?

[13:20:02] MCELDOWNEY: I do hold by it, and I'll tell you, I wrote that in 2017 after I resigned on principle because I was worried about what might

happen. I hoped I was wrong at the time, and I'm very sad to see now that I was not wrong. I beseeched my colleagues who remained inside the

government to continue to do the work, the essential work, not just in the State Department but throughout our federal agencies, but to do it in a way

that was integral, that was consistent with their oath of office and with the laws which prohibit partisan activity.

You know, every federal employee takes an oath to uphold the constitution but also is governed by statute which says they cannot be involved in any

type of partisan activity. So, yes, they do need to speak out. We have a professional ethos which calls upon us to identify and call out illicit,

immoral, or illegal activity. And if we cannot get the traction that we need within our agency's structures, we are then to go to the inspector

generals to file formal grievances and complaints and to become a whistle- blower.

Instead of attacking the whistle-blower and trying to undercut -- uncloak the identity of this individual, what people throughout our government

should be doing is talking about how courageous that person was and working hard to ensure the safety of this person.

AMANPOUR: Nancy McEldowney, former career civil servant and diplomat for the United States, thank you very much for joining me.

MCELDOWNEY: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: So now we go from that kind of institutional assault in Washington to very similar overseas. The hard deadline for Brexit is just

three weeks away, and how that split will actually work is still not settled.

But today, a possible chink of light in that darkness, the British and Irish prime ministers, Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar, met behind closed

doors in a last-ditch attempt to make an agreement. And the Irish leader then walked away more optimistic than he sounded in the past.

Well, he said that perhaps he could see a possible pathway to a deal that could be struck by October 31st, the hard Brexit deadline. The Irish

border has, of course, been the main sticking point for the last three years of this struggle for this divorce. John Bruton is the former

Taoiseach of Ireland which is the prime minister and the former E.U. ambassador to the United States and he's joining me now from Dublin. John

Bruton, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: You have heard Leo Varadkar and you've heard what he said, that there's a possible breakthrough. Even the opposition parliament -- party

in your country has said they are happy to hear that this megaphone diplomacy is now being replaced by in-depth discussions behind closed

doors. We don't really know what they've discussed today. But put your experienced hat on. Where do you think there could be some kind of


BRUTON: I think the big area where there has to be movement is in regard to customs. Boris Johnson was a member of the May government, which agreed

in December of 2017 to a negotiating path with the European Union, which said there would be no customs controls on the border in Ireland and it's a

Good Friday agreement, which is about convergence flow and divergence would be respected.

Now, the proposals that he came forward with a week ago, Boris Johnson came forward with a week ago, don't comply with that really in respect

particularly of the customs controls. There is a real problem. There will be tariffs if Britain leaves the E.U. There will be tariffs to be imposed

on imports from the U.K. into the European Union.

If Britain leaves the E.U., there will be different standards of goods applying in the U.K. to those that apply in the European Union, and Boris

Johnson has said that he intends to deliberately, in fact, to diverge from E.U. standards, presumably to gain some sort of competitive advantage.

But if that happens, the E.U. will have to defend its interests by imposing tariffs, of the arrangements that Boris Johnson proposed for the collection

of those tariffs was so sloppy as to be not enforceable. I don't believe the European Union will be willing to accept that value-added tax would be

collected properly under the arrangements he was proposing or that the tariffs would be collected either.

AMANPOUR: John Bruton, one of the things that I think much of the world can understand about Ireland being the major sticking point is because of

that, as we've been talking, the border idea, the border issue that has been resolved since 1997's Good Friday Agreement, which you had done so

much work in the lead-up for that before it was actually signed by your successor with Prime Minister Blair.

[13:25:17] The Good Friday Agreement that ended the war, essentially, between Republicans, IRA, and the British government. What is the threat?

We're already seeing dissident IRA having done all sorts of opportunistic violence over the last several months, and what is your fear in terms of

peace on your island, if this doesn't work out?

BRUTON: It's important to say that the Good Friday Agreement was built on a foundation, and that foundation consisted of Britain and Ireland being in

the single European markets and there being a common customs code, which was agreed in 1992.

1992, the Good Friday Agreement, 1993, the single market, 1998, the good -- 1998 we had the Peace Agreement. But without the customs code being in

place and Britain being in a single market, there would never have been a Good Friday Agreement, there would never have been that prospect of peace

created. And that's why we've got to preserve the open market that is part of the foundation of the Good Friday Agreement and part of the foundation

of peace.

Now, of course, there are criminal organizations that are active in the border, some of them marginally more criminal than terrorists, some of them

marginally more terrorist than criminal, but both of them highly undesirable. And the worry about the British proposals is that they would

allow much larger no-fly zone for smugglers in the northern half of Ireland.

And those smugglers frequently are involved as well in political terrorism, and indeed, they use the receipts from smuggling to finance terrorism. And

we don't want to create that and we're worried. I think the E.U. would also be worried because of the integrity of the single market, dash the

proposals as tabled a couple of weeks ago would then be open season for smuggling.

AMANPOUR: And that also worries both of the issues you've talked about now. I mean, they're connected, obviously, that worries the United States.

Because as we all know, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and all the hardline Brexiteers have been saying that, yes, we're just going to cut loose and

have a great deal with the United States, a great trade deal with the United States.

But I spoke to the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, in Dublin a few months ago. And she was very clear about what the U.S. insisted happens

with the Good Friday Agreement. Here's what she said to me.


NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: It's very hard to pass a trade agreement in Congress, very, very hard. And a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement that would

be a reward for weakening the Good Friday accords is just not a possibility.


AMANPOUR: I mean, she's sending the Brexiteers a very, very clear message, that any hard border there, don't think that you're going to get to the

front of the queue. I mean, that's something that the U.K. has to reckon with, right, in terms of a new trade deal?

BRUTON: That's right. And obviously, trade with the United States is important to the U.K., but trade with the European Union is far more

important to the U.K. than trade with the United States. And the United Kingdom is going to need to get an agreement eventually with the European


And if it has not acted in an appropriate fashion in regard to preserving the good Friday Agreement and keeping an open border in Ireland and having

Northern Ireland part of the E.U. customs territory, if the U.K. has not acted in good faith in that regard, it will find it much, much more

difficult to make a trade agreement with its biggest customer, the European Union.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Bruton, I don't know whether you paid a huge amount of attention, but it was a big scandal here, these leaks to the spectator,

which people presume came from Boris Johnson's key adviser in Downing Street, Dominic Cummings, and they seem to be deliberately targeting

Ireland, among other European nations.

This is what he said or this is what this said, "we will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go to the

front of the queue for future cooperation on things both within and outside the E.U. components. Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the

queue." By delay, he means asking for yet another extension if there's not a proper agreement and not a proper deal. And, you know, did Ireland feel

like it was being, you know, threatened to go to the back of the queue?

[13:29:52] BRUTON: Well, I understand that the Northern Ireland secretary and the U.K. government was very concerned about that, and indeed, issued a

statement himself saying that that would not happen, because he was very worried that what the gentleman that was speaking on behalf of the prime

minister was suggesting was that there would cease to be cooperation between the police services north of theborder and the police services

south of the border in Ireland.

Now, that would be greatly to Britain's disadvantage. That cooperation has worked very well. It will be disrupted by Brexit.

Remember, Brexit will mean that the European arrest warrant will go. But if there was to be further vengeance-driven lack of cooperation, that would

assist the IRA, I don't think that's something that anybody would want to do.

AMANPOUR: I mean sometimes I wonder whether you view -- I mean I speak to you as not just a former Irish prime minister, but also as a former leader

in the E.U. You are speaking on behalf, or the same kind of sentiments that the rest of the E.U. would be saying.

They are saying, because the Brexiteers keep saying that, oh, the E.U. will definitely need to compromise because they don't want a no deal even worse

than we don't want a no deal. But we've seen a lot of reporting, and I wonder if you can confirm, that the E.U. have actually -- now they're

pretty fed up, they kind of have backed it in that Britain will leave.

They think that even if there is another referendum, there will be a sort of, you know, a rump Brexit, you know, sort of troublemakers for a long

time within the E.U., if Britain does stay. Their businesses are ramping up and have been working for the last three years to, you know, to prepare

themselves for this.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is, is it -- who's it going to be worse for, this game of chicken? Who's going to suffer the most?

BRUTON: Well, I think there have been economic studies that have been done that if a hard Brexit or a no-deal Brexit comes into effect, the biggest

loser by a substantial distance will be Britain. Ireland will be the second biggest loser, and it will suffer substantial losses, and we've been

making provision for that in the budgets we had this week.

And then after that, a number of other European countries, Belgium and The Netherlands and France I think will suffer a little. But most of the

European Union 27 countries will not be particularly affected by the departure of Britain.

And there is, I think, as you're suggesting, a lot of impatience in the European Union with all the time that's being taken up with Brexit, when we

have so many other problems to face in the European Union, the completion of the single currency, dealing with the refugee crisis.

And your earlier interviewee highlighted the possibility of another flood of refugees coming into the European Union as a result of the actions being

taken by Turkey. These are all issues that the European Union needs to get on with, and it is being distracted by the continuing indecision in

Westminster, its indecision in Westminster, a government with a majority in Westminster, made a deal, and it couldn't get it through.

Now, a prime minister without a majority is coming forward with a new proposal, and there are questions being asked in Brussels. Could he get

any deal that we might get through parliament either? And that question -- there's no obvious answer to that question.

AMANPOUR: And then, of course, there's a suggestion that perhaps some European leaders would hope that somehow there would be, you know, either

another election or a different political situation here that would lead to a second referendum.

And in fact, your own Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last week that Britain should vote again. He basically suggested that on a visit to Sweden.

He says "All the polls since Johnson became prime minister suggest that's what the British people want, to vote again, but their political system

isn't able to give them that choice." What do you think? Do you think that Ireland is banking on a second referendum that will, you know, reverse

the vote, reverse the view of the first?

BRUTON: No. No. The reality are that the polls do show 51 percent remain against 45 percent leave or continue with the process of leaving, and a

very small number of don't knows in between the two, which suggests that if there were a referendum, remain might win rather than leave.

But that's not what we are making our plans on the basis of. We're making our plans on the basis of the capacity of the U.K. political system to make

a deal and keep it. And to make a deal that protects the interests of the European Union and protects the single market of the European Union, which

has been the secret of our economic success in Europe.


And ironically, something to which Britain contributed intellectually more than any other European Union member, but Britain wants to leave that, but

we're determined to preserve it. And we will not make any agreement with Britain that would weaken the single market of the European Union.

AMANPOUR: And again, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said amongst his other statements today that on no account is a hard border acceptable for

Ireland. John Bruton, thank you very much, indeed.

Now, have you ever stopped to think about how much Google might know about you? Well, this was a question that galvanized our next guest into action.

Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer in San Francisco, spearheaded an initiative which saw California adopt the toughest digit privacy law in

the United States. As it wants to go into -- as it waits to go into effect next year, Mactaggart now wants to go one step further, and he's launching

a new initiative against the tech giants.

He sat down with our Hari Sreenivasan to discuss how and why he's fighting for people's privacy.

HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: You were behind a privacy initiative in California. You're a real estate guy. Why was this important to you?

ALASTAIR MACTAGGART, FOUNDER & CHAIR, CALIFORNIANS FOR CONSUMER PRIVACY: It's a great question and it's one that always perplexes I think everybody.

Actually, it perplexes me because I don't really know how I got here.

I literally had a conversation one day with a Google engineer, and there was something in the press that day about privacy and I asked him, hey, is

there a big deal about this? And I expected him to say, nothing to see here. And he said you'd be terrified if you knew how much we knew about


And that got me thinking, you know, I can find out from the government, actually, with the freedom of information act. I should probably be able

to find out from companies. And I can't.

And then I thought, you know, someone should do something about that. And after a couple weeks, I thought, maybe I'm somebody.

SREENIVASAN: So, as this starts to gain momentum, are you thinking to yourself, there's definitely another side to this and they're going to push


MACTAGGART: Yes. So, what happens is, you can form an opposition committee. And literally, everybody, you know, Amazon, Microsoft, Uber,

you know, the biggest companies in the world joining, Facebook. And at one point, I did the math and the market cap of the companies opposing me was

$6 trillion. And --

SREENIVASAN: You don't have that much.

MACTAGGART: No. I'm not actually a trillionaire. So, yes, that was a sobering kind of time when you thought about that.

SREENIVASAN: So, at its core, how do you boil down what the initiative was about?

MACTAGGART: So, the initiative did three basic things. The first one was it gave you the right to know what information these companies had

collected about you. Pretty simple.

The second one was, let me tell you not to sell it. I want to be able to tell you not to sell it.

We've all read the privacy policies. We've all been confused by the privacy policies. We've all gotten to the end of the privacy policies and


SREENIVASAN: And just said I accept.

MACTAGGART: -- and said I don't even know what that just said.


MACTAGGART: I do this. I still don't know. They're drafted by the smartest people in the world, sadly to intentionally mislead you.

So I wanted to be able to say I never want to read another privacy policy in my life. I want to just say, don't sell my information.

And the third thing -- this was right around Equifax -- we said, actually, you should take care of my personal information. And so we said there are

increased penalties for data breaches.

SREENIVASAN: So, I should have a right to know what information you have on me.

MACTAGGART: Right to say no.

SREENIVASAN: Right to say no. And then a right that if you have my information, that you keep it safe.

MACTAGGART: Keep it safe.

SREENIVASAN: Seems relatively straightforward.


SREENIVASAN: What's the concern against that?

MACTAGGART: Well, I think the concern, you know, is that this industry is very young, very new, and they've never had any regulation, really, of any

kind of -- you know, there are of course the labor laws and all the normal stuff applies to them, but in terms of what they do, they have this halo

over the whole industry. And I think just kind of reflectively, they were reacting saying, we're not going to have that here.

SREENIVASAN: You know, a company that provides you some services under the guise of free is going to say, listen, this is the quid pro quo. I'm going

to give you free e-mail. I'm going to give you the ability to keep in touch with all of your family and friends. I'm giving you these amazing

shopping coupons when you come to my site.

And that, in exchange, you're giving me a little bit of information on what you're buying, where you are, who you're talking to. What's the harm?

MACTAGGART: So, here's the difference. I think we all grew up watching T.V., listening to the radio. We're all used to commercials, right?

And my initiative which is now the law makes a distinction between what's called contextual advertising and behavioral advertising. Contextual is,

I'm reading an article about New Zealand.


An ad for Air New Zealand pops up. No one has any problem with that, you know?

And by the way, that's even better than old T.V. T.V. was just we're going to show an ad for beer on Super Bowl and hope someone buys the beer.


MACTAGGART: This is actually much better. And by the way, that contextual technology is what fueled the rise of Google, Facebook. It is worth

trillions of dollars, right?

What's recently happened, since you know -- the smartphone's only like 12 years old. What's happened now is we are -- if you're those businesses,

we're being tracked 24/7/365, all of your searches, all of your location, who you're standing next to, what apps you have installed, what you're

looking for, what you're interested in.

That's now going into this massive file. If I know everything about you, now I can sort of anticipate.

So, here's an interesting study. There was a fellow, a professor of business at the Stanford Business School. He came up with an algorithm

where with access to 300 of your likes on Facebook, he could predict your answers to a well-known personality quiz, you know, a very standard

personality quiz, better than your spouse, better than all your co-workers, better than everybody who knows you. It's the ubiquitous tracking, that's

what is the real problem.

SREENIVASAN: And where is that tracking going and who owns that information? Is it, let's say for example, medical information that I

might be sharing information with my doctor in an e-mail or attachments, et cetera, et cetera. I might have been going to a specific hospital over and

over again, and let's say you know that that's a cancer unit.

Where's all that information going? Who's going to do what with it?

MACTAGGART: So, here's the crazy thing, when you're at the hospital or when you're talking to your doctor, there's a federal law called HIPAA.

Super strict about your privacy.

But if you're wearing a wearable that's collecting your blood pressure and your, how many steps you've taken, all that, which is super intimate, not

covered by HIPAA. People think it is. It's not.

That's for sale, depending on which provider you have, which piece of hardware you have. If I know that you're searching for depression or I

know that you're searching for schizophrenia, now, you may be doing it for a niece, you may be doing it for someone else in your life, but that kind

of goes into your file.

So, where's this all going? This is all going into the data mall of these giant corporations that every single thing you do is being filed. So, now

like the New York Department of Life Insurance now allows companies to look at your social media.

So, there is this sense of, if -- you know, I've sometimes thought, am I going to search for that medical term? Is that going to end up on

somewhere affecting my life insurance? There's this weird sense --

SREENIVASAN: If you keep searching for diabetes, maybe we should charge him a higher price.

MACTAGGART: Absolutely. It's in his family. It goes to the risk.

And here's the other thing, you don't have to be logged in to one of this big Facebook or Google. You don't have to be a user. You don't have to be

a registered member.

But because they have the links, and sometimes you can see them, like the Facebook like button. And sometimes they're just what's called an

invisible pixel that's firing back.

But basically, every website you visit, every page you visit is being logged, how long you're on it, what you looked at is being logged by these

giant corporations because it's really easy for them to do it. It's basically free, so why not do it?

SREENIVASAN: So, here are all these companies on the opposite side of the table from you. Did you ever feel that this could be a threat to you as a

person or the business that you run?

MACTAGGART: You know, so, at one point, I knew I had enough money to get the initiative on the ballot. But I thought, you know, if I'm going to run

an expensive campaign, why don't I try and go out and find other people who are like-minded?

So I tried to meet billionaires who I thought, OK, these are the people who will contribute. And I had a really good meeting with one. And I said to

him, hey, look, would you, you know, consider supporting us?

And he's like, look, I like what you do, I think it's a great idea, but I could never support you. Why? And he said, because these people are

really powerful and they could really hurt my business.

And I remember thinking, your business? And then on cue, he says, how's your business doing, Alastair? And as I left that meeting, I thought to

myself, actually, there is no legal reason why they couldn't just eradicate my business from the Internet, so you couldn't find my buildings, right?

I'm in the real estate business.

That's power. That's real power. So, yes, I was scared. I was scared -- I actually think that's probably not going to happen because I think in

general these companies have a franchise they don't want to risk, but the theoretical possibility was sobering.

SREENIVASAN: So, what happened? How did that get to be where it is?

MACTAGGART: So, what happened is -- so, we got the signatures. We're now in May of 2018. And right around that time, a guy named Senator Hertzberg,

Robert Hertzberg, who is now the majority leader in the Senate here in California, got a hold of my campaign manager and arranged a meeting for



So we went in to meet him and he said we should do a deal. Once you get your signatures, you can take your initiative off the ballot, presuming

that we pass a law that you like.

So I thought, well, I'll talk to the guy because anything's possible. And I thought to myself, there's just no way that's going to happen because

these companies are not going to allow this to happen, you know?

In the case of the legislature, I thought they've got more power there than I do. Long story short, we had a deal. And my wife took a look at me.

She's like, you go to Sacramento and you make sure this deal happens. You've been working on this for two years, you go up.

So I spent three days in Sacramento walking the halls telling legislators why I actually thought it was a good deal. Then on the third day, we

voted. And that was actually something that was extraordinary for me.

It was voted out of both Houses unanimously, which I didn't in a million years ever thought --

SREENIVASAN: Bipartisan consent?

MACTAGGART: Bipartisan consent.

SREENIVASAN: Because privacy isn't about red or blue.


SREENIVASAN: And if it can happen in California, do you think it can happen elsewhere?

MACTAGGART: I do. I think people are -- I think people are fed up and they're resigned at the same time. They don't like it, but they know they

need the technology to live in today's world.

You can't have a job without a cell phone. Your kids. You know, you can't -- you can't not use Google. You can't not search on the Internet.

And so, people know this is happening. And by the way, this is making me sound like I think these companies are bad. I don't think they're bad.

The fact that I can carry around the world's libraries in my pocket is an extraordinary, wonderful thing. The fact that I can go to Google and find

any information is an extraordinary and wonderful thing. So I don't think it's all bad.

But it's a balance. And the question is, what do they do with that information and where's the bargain -- where should it be struck? And

right now, I think that the problem is that the balance is too much in favor of the corporations.

And by the way, this is nothing new in the history of business.


MACTAGGART: You know, we've seen this hundreds of times, hundreds of years of business regulation.

Business gets to here and then the people say, wait a second, shouldn't there be labor laws? Shouldn't there be child labor laws? Shouldn't there

be vehicular safety laws?

And that's what we're seeing right now. It's just we're seeing an attempt to redress the balance a little bit and make it a little more equal.

SREENIVASAN: So as we speak, you've got a new initiative that you've just sent up. What is that one about?

MACTAGGART: It's about giving some additional rights. You know, what's happened in the two years since I filed the initiative -- I mean, the world

keeps on changing, so this is before Cambridge Analytica, before Equifax, before Facebook pays a $5 billion fine, before Google pays a $178 million

fine for intentionally violating kids' privacy.

So, this is -- so, the business world has not been chastened by this. They haven't stopped doing what they're doing, so we're saying, look, we need

some additional rights.

There's a category in the new initiative of personal information that's so sensitive that businesses would have to get your permission to sell it,

that you'd be able to say, actually, no, you can't advertise to me based on my religion. I just want to be able to take that off the table.

You can't advertise to me based on my precise geolocation. Why should you get to know exactly where I am, whether I went to church today, what

religion I am, which you can track?

You can put a geo fence around any building in this country and track every single smartphone going in and out and advertisers will sell you that


SREENIVASAN: In the new initiative, what are you looking for in terms of infrastructure to try and enforce this all?

MACTAGGART: In the new initiative, what we're proposing is the creation of an entity called the California Privacy Protection Agency, and that's going

to be a stand-alone entity.

Right now, the authority to enforce it under existing law is going to be the attorney general, who I'm a big fan of, but he has said -- and I

understand this -- his plight, look, he's set up to be a cop, not a regulator.

A lot of this is regulation, it's issuing guidelines, responding to inquiries. So we're setting up a dedicated group that will be staffed with

experts who will have the deep institutional knowledge necessary to regulate a really complicated industry.

SREENIVASAN: So, right now the law that you've already pushed through is some of the strongest privacy language in the country.

MACTAGGART: It is the strongest law, no question.



SREENIVASAN: There's kind of a European version, so to speak. And they have that rule.

Federally, there is nothing on the books for the U.S. government and all citizens in the land that has been proposed that would match either the

European standard or the California standard. What happens if Congress tries to tackle this, but it's weaker than the California standard?

MACTAGGART: That was always -- is a possibility, always has been a possibility. We live in a federal country.

So, I have a couple answers. One, if you have a federal law, it doesn't have to preempt the states. So, there's the HIPAA. We mentioned that

before. That's the health law.

There's something called Gramm Leach Bliley, that's the financial privacy law. Both of those are national laws, but they're minimum standards. They

say every state has to do this, but any state can go further, right?


So, that model right there, I'm like, well, great, let's have a national privacy law but let the states go further. It's called a floor, not a


That's one thing. The second thing I would say is, OK, we are the fifth largest economy in the world in the State. One in eight Americans lives


The speaker of the House is from here. One of the leading presidential candidates is from here.

All of these politicians, many of them, have publicly stated that they won't accept anything that's weaker than California in terms of a privacy

standard. Twenty percent of the House Democratic Caucus is from California.

So it's really upper most in my mind that one of the reasons to do this right now is to raise the bar nationally, because I think what I'm going to

be seeing is, hey, we're going to qualify, we're going to go into this election.

We're polling literally in the 90s right now. And my pollster said last time she saw numbers like this, there was a ballot initiative a few years

ago that banned human trafficking in California, which is, like this is that kind of territory.

SREENIVASAN: So, look, I can see the campaign ads right now against you. This is going to be a job-killer.

Technology's going to leave California or they're going to go to some other state that doesn't have these, you know, all this red tape, right? How do

you create a scenario where you can tell the public that this is actually possible, that you can get your data, that this is enforceable and that

this can happen in this state without an economic cost?

MACTAGGART: Couple of answers there. One, that this is happening whether or not this initiative goes forward. That is happening in January. So

that law's already passed.

And by the way, the tech companies spent all of 2019 trying to destroy it, and I spent all of 2019 trying to make sure it stayed intact, and other

advocates and I were able to keep it basically no bad amendments, which was sustained nine-month assault.

Our legislature ends in September, so that's over. We succeeded. So I don't think they're going to be able to do it next year.

In terms of the Californian job-killer thing, I think, first of all, Californians have heard it before, but was really interesting when we did

our focus groups, and the place that was most concerned about privacy and least sympathetic to this job-killing thing was the ones -- were the ones

we did in Silicon Valley.

I'll never forget this one lady saying, you know what, they're building a space ship down the street from me -- she's talking about Apple -- she's

like, they have the money. I don't care. This is important stuff.

SREENIVASAN: How much did it cost to take the positions that you're taking now?

MACTAGGART: You know, it's in -- look, it's in the millions of dollars and it's -- so it's a huge amount of money.

SREENIVASAN: You had to pay to get the signatures. You had to pay for lobbyists. What does that say about where our democracy is, that this is

what it takes, a lot of money and hard work to try to get an idea into law?

MACTAGGART: I mean, look, I think that there are -- you know, I think the citizens united was a horrible case, and that's not this particularly.

Interesting thing about this process, the initiative process, this process was created by a guy named Hiram Johnson, who was the governor in the early

part of the last century, in order to allow people to stand up to the big corporate interests.

So, I think his idea was that people would actually gather the signatures. I'm a little bit removed from that. I'm actually paying people.

But if you think about what I spent, in the low millions -- and again, that's a huge sum -- but think about that in the context of an opposition

that was worth $6 trillion last February. This is not even a rounding error for them. It's spare change.

The concept that I could spend that kind of money and win against an industry that formidable is something that you could only see in America.

So, I get that it's a ton of money and people will criticize me for having too much money to do this stuff. And yet, when you think about the, OK,

I'm a wealthy David, but the goliath over here was -- you've never seen an industry like that.

So, I do think that there is -- you have to look at it in perspective, and it's the wealthiest corporations the world's ever seen.

SREENIVASAN: Alastair Mactaggart, thank you so much for joining us.

MACTAGGART: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And in the eternal battle of David versus goliath, David does often win.

Before we go tonight, please remember to tune in tomorrow night to see my conversation with the mega best-selling American Author Patricia Cornwell.

Her crime novels featuring the medical examiner Kay Scarpetta have sold more than a hundred million copies all over the world.

Recently, she almost walked away from it all, until new inspiration took hold.


PATRICIA CORNWELL, BEST-SELLINGG NOVELIST: People don't know this, but I tell you, when the 24th Scarpetta book came out three years ago, and that

was my 40th book.

Now, not -- the first four didn't get published. But if you did the math, from the age of 21 until the age I was three years ago, it would have been

me doing a book every single year, in addition to everything else I've done. And the publishing world's changed dramatically.


And I just thought, I don't know what -- I literally said, I don't know what to do with her anymore unless I put her on the moon, Scarpetta. And I

just thought, I'm not going to write any more books.

AMANPOUR: So you kind of quit?

CORNWELL: I did quit. I said I'm not doing any more books. And so I started doing research for film and T.V. and then I got asked the James

Bond question.

And so I came up with a film proposal, met with all kinds of people, but they said you know, we love this, except it needs to be a book. And I

said, no, rats, and rats fink, not again.


AMANPOUR: The clue there is the moon. That's tomorrow. Be sure to tune in.

But that's it for now. Remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.