Sunday

25th Sep 2022

Facebook promises more privacy ahead of new EU rules

  • Facebook now has some 2 billion users (Photo: Derzsi Elekes Andor)

Social media giant Facebook says it is stepping up efforts to grant people greater privacy over their data ahead of new EU data protection rules.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, on Tuesday (23 January) said the firm is rolling out a new global privacy centre as part of its initiative to meet the criteria of the EU´s general data protection regulation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We are rolling out a new privacy centre globally that puts the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data," she said in Brussels.

The regulation is set for EU-wide launch in May and imposes tough rules to protect the data of EU citizens and residents. Firms that do not comply risk hefty fines.

Sandberg said the company is also launching a "new transparency and control app" that will place privacy at the core of product design.

Her statement also came ahead of an ongoing Irish court case initially triggered by Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems against Facebook Ireland.

The legal battle has major implications for data transfers to the United States and is set to be heard at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The Facebook move appears to be part of a larger policy shift following backlash against the company over Russian-led election meddling in France, the United States, and elsewhere. Russian actors had created around 80,000 posts that reached some 126 million people over a two-year period.

The US giant has since announced it would change its news feed to priorities family and friends. It wants 20,000 staff dedicated to policing content and ensuring news is more trustworthy and informative and local.

"We have to protect free expression, keep people safe, and respect privacy and we need to it in a way that works everywhere," said Sandberg.

The plan against fake news includes making Facebook ads more transparent, she said, noting that such content is most often driven by financial incentives and not just politics.

EU opposes Silicon Valley approach

The task is not easy. The amount of data shared and created along with different cultural and legal understandings of what constitutes, for instance hate speech, has critics on the edge.

Facebook alone already has some 2 billion users who daily watch around 100 million hours of video on the social platform. By 2020, it estimates 6 billion people will be online and that two in three will have a smartphone.

The European Commission is demanding Facebook, along with others, keeps removing the offending material under threat of imposing regulation. It also wants to harness such industry players in its broader strategy to create a single digital market throughout the European Union.

Speaking at the same Facebook event on Tuesday, EU digital commissioner Mariya Gabriel said the European commission would be investing some €500 million over the next five years to create digital innovation hubs.

She said the EU policy for a digital market entails the respect of privacy, net neutrality, the fight against illegal content and discrimination, and giving small firms the ability to challenge corporate domination.

"We want to decentralise creativity, we don't want to copy the Silicon Valley approach," she said.

Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland

Public pressure about low corporate taxes appear to have pressured Facebook to launch plans to stop routing international ad sales through its Dublin-based headquarters in Ireland.

Germany pledges 'strict' laws after Facebook data breach

Germany aims to pass new laws on social media after revelations that Facebook data was used to manipulate US voters, while the EU Commission is asking the company to give information about data breaches.

EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm

MEPs are to investigate whether UK firm Cambridge Analytica and Facebook misused private data to sway votes amid increasingly lurid revelations.

Data privacy chiefs wary of lagging EU states

EU data protection chiefs are worried member states won't be ready when a new wide-sweeping general data protection regulation goes live on 25 May. National laws still need to be passed to ensure data authorities can enforce the regulation EU-wide.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us