Monday

23rd Jul 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.

... our 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.

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.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

News in Brief

  1. Greece FM warns of Russian interference in Balkans
  2. Minister: No Franco-German disagreement on US tariffs
  3. UK Brexit minister warns of 'no-deal' preparations
  4. Munich: large protest against CSU's anti-migration line
  5. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  6. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  7. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  8. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Far-right Bannon to open EU campaign group
  2. Russia sanctions: test of EU commitment to international law
  3. Malta's PM cleared of Panama Paper wrongdoing
  4. EU wants answers to de-dramatise Brexit talks
  5. Juncker White House trip trumps the agenda This WEEK
  6. Italian populists try to sink EU migrant mission
  7. EU urges no-deal Brexit preparation
  8. Turkey ends state of emergency but continues crackdown

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us