23 May, 2018

ALDE Group: Zuckerberg's answers were inadequate

Following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's hearing on Tuesday 24 May evening in the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, the ALDE Group believes Mark Zuckerberg's answers were inadequate.

Facebook has a long list of questions to answer regarding their past and current behaviour and practices.

Users whose data has been misused and breached must be informed individually and compensation offered.

Guy Verhofstadt, President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, said after the hearing: "The responses we received today from Mr Zuckerberg, and indeed the restricted format of today's hearing, were totally inadequate."

"Mr Zuckerberg has apologised tens of times, but the people have had enough, as the petition initiated by Avaaz, which I today handed to Mr Zuckerberg, highlights."

"I have no doubt Mr Zuckerberg is a genius, but there is a risk his legacy will be that he created a company akin to Frankenstein's monster, which spiralled out of his own control."

"Facebook claims to bring the world closer together, but in practice it's lax policies have enabled those who wish to divide our communities."

"It's clear self- regulation has failed and if Facebook is not willing to apply even our laws, then further regulation will be required to ensure Facebook can no longer be manipulated by the alt-right and foreign state actors to undermine our democratic processes. Facebook must take concrete measures to ban all bots and guarantee that bots cannot misuse the FB platform, or face legislation to deliver this."

"It may be time to break up this monopoly to protect the privacy of our citizens, like we did in the past with Standard Oil and the Bells."

"Fundamental questions regarding the abuse of EU citizen's data remain unanswered and compensation for those who have had their data misused must be forthcoming. A Facebook profile can be worth up to one hundred and fifty dollars, so perhaps compensation for those whose data has been misused should be commensurate with this?"

"The responsibility also lies with European legislators and member states who must implement existing EU data protection standards. It's clear the European Union is failing to implement it's own data protection laws sufficiently and I call on the the European Commission and regulatory authorities to intervene to ensure the GDPR and other legislation is implemented effectively."

"Today's pre-cooked format was inappropriate and helped to ensure that Mr Zuckerberg could get away without answering any of our fundamental questions.I trust as a minimum that written answers from Facebook will be forthcoming. If these written questions are not accurately answered in detail the EU competition authorities will have to be activated and legislation sharpened."

Sophie In 't Veld MEP, first Vice President of the ALDE Group, said: "Today's very modest accountability exercise is not the solution, nor is Facebook the only problem. The real scandal is that millions of companies are engaging in similar activities to Facebook, but as yet have faced little or no scrutiny."

"We need to take a critical look at ourselves. The GDPR will enter into force on Friday, but people seem to be unaware we have had tough data protection laws in place since 1995. Compliance and enforcement of existing data protection laws are very weak."

"The case of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica was known for years. Why have data protection authorities in Europe not acted sooner? Right wing parties are now crying crocodile tears over Facebook abusing personal data, and demanding loudly that he appears before Parliament. But those same groups have systematically voted against strong privacy protection. "

"Next week, the European Parliament will adopt a resolution on Privacy Shield, the controversial scheme used by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to transfer personal data to the US, but the EPP and ECR defend Privacy Shield, arguing it is necessary for business. They also aim to dramatically weaken the e-Privacy Regulation."

"We should use competiton rules much more effectively. Already ten years ago we first raised concerns over the Google-DoubleClick merger, but the European Commission, as well as the US FTC, treated it like a classic merger of two companies in different sectors. That approach does not work anymore in the digital age. Competition rules can also serve to protect privacy or as a defense against manipulation of elections."

"I would like Mr Zuckerberg to explain in detail how he uses the Privacy Shield for transferring data to the US. And why he choses to export the data of FB users to another jurisdiction, outside the EU, by changing the terms of the contract. That contrasts rather starkly with his vow to apply European GDPR standards even outside the EU. Indeed, such an operation may even be illegal."

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