Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

Interview

Facebook chief 'surprisingly naive', says EU data lawmaker

  • It remains to be seen if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will make an appearance at the European parliament (Photo: Anthony Quintano)

A chief architect of the EU's upcoming privacy rules has described Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as being "surprisingly naive".

German Green MEP Jan Phillip Albrecht, who steered the EU general data protection regulation (GDPR) - which launches on 25 May - through the European Parliament, said that Zuckerberg was only beginning to realise the impact data has on people's privacy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Albrecht: New Facebook scandal "goes far beyond data protection and privacy issues" (Photo: European Parliament)

"For me, it was surprisingly naive still how they approached all these issues," he told EUobserver in a phone interview on Thursday (12 April).

The Facebook CEO was grilled earlier this week by US congressmen following media revelations that data belonging to millions of users were harvested by Cambridge Analytica to sway US elections and the Brexit referendum.

"This goes far beyond data protection and privacy issues," said Albrecht.

Around 87 million Facebook profiles were used in the political profiling scandal. Of those, an estimated 2.7 million are European.

The European Parliament is hoping to get a similar hearing with the CEO following an earlier invitation from its president Antonio Tajani.

Albrecht said a Zuckerberg no-show and a refusal to tweak Facebook's business model would invite the European Union to figure out ways to "strengthen alternatives to this platform".

The general data protection regulation imposes stronger rules on privacy. Companies that act on the European market will have to follow it, regardless of where they are based. Massive fines and much stronger enforcement await those that fail to comply.

Albrecht said Facebook is not yet line with the GDPR when it comes to things like explicit and informed consent.

"They know that they have to be compliant at a certain moment and the GDPR plays an important role in proving that they are on the side of those who follow the rules," he said.

Connecting people at all costs, even if it kills

EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova made similar comments on Wednesday but has struggled to get the Americans to take a separate EU-US data sharing pact, known as Privacy Shield, seriously.

Her predecessor Viviane Reding, who tabled the regulation in 2012, told Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg in a letter dated 10 April that the "theft and abuse of citizen's personal data" represents a present danger for free and open democracies.

Sandberg in January at an event in Brussels had also announced more privacy rules ahead of the GDPR.

She said plans were underway for a new privacy centre that puts "the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data."

But her comments also come on the back of another top Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth, who in a 2016 memo, defended the social media giant's business model of connecting people even if "it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies".

The broader issues of trust given the latest scandal may also undermine people's faith in Sandberg's initiatives as the social media giant bleeds users amid on-going court battles in Belgium and Ireland.

On Thursday, the Irish High Court referred a case triggered by Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems against Facebook's international branch in Ireland to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The case stems back to US mass surveillance as disclosed by former NSA operative, Edward Snowden.

"The question in this case does not seem to be if Facebook can win it, but to what extent the Court of Justice will prohibit Facebook's EU-US data transfers," Schrems said in a statement.

New EU fines will apply to 'old' data breaches

On 25 May, a new general data protection regulation will apply. Data breaches that happened before that date, but were covered up, can be fined under the new regulation.

EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

EU leaders at a Brussels summit demand social networks and digital platforms guarantee transparency and privacy. Their call comes amid growing backlash against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over voter manipulation.

Facebook promises more privacy ahead of new EU rules

Speaking in Brussels, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, says the social media giant has "not done enough to stop the abuse of our technology." Her admission comes with new plans to wrestle with "bad content".

Agenda

Macron and Syria top EU agenda This WEEK

French president to deliver speech on EU democratic model after populist victories in Hungary and Italy and amid an escalation of the Syria crisis.

Visual Data

Facebook's increasing PR job in Brussels

Starting in 2012, when it first entered the EU's transparency register, Facebook has been steadily intensifying its lobbying efforts within European institutions.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission: efforts 'ongoing' over Italian migrant ship
  2. Italy allows boat with migrants to dock
  3. France's Total pulls out of Iran due to US sanctions
  4. Trump accuses EU and China of currency manipulation
  5. Swedish conservatives regret unsuccessful integration policies
  6. Record high measles cases hit Europe
  7. Swedish politician declares war on media
  8. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya

Opinion

The systemic risk that Europe has to face

One of the biggest systemic risks across Europe, illustrated by Hungary and Poland, is the dominance of the executive power over the judiciary and informal channels of political dependency.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. UK sanctions appeal risks highlighting EU divisions
  2. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  3. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  4. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  5. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  6. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  7. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  8. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us