EU Leaders To Social Networks: Guarantee Users’ Privacy

Photo by Jakob Steinschaden from Flickr

On Thursday, the leaders of the European Union urged the social networks to guarantee transparent practices and fully protect the personal information of clients as pressure piled on Facebook, the social media giant, following allegations that the information from 50 million of the users was not handled properly.

Over $50 billion (£35.4 billion) has been wiped off the market value of the social media titan on reports that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy, was able to improperly access data to build the profiles on American voters and influence the US presidential election in 2016.

After a meeting in Brussels, the heads of state of the European Union said: “Social networks and digital platforms need to guarantee transparent practices and full protection of citizens’ privacy and personal data.

“EU and national legislation must be respected and enforced.”

The harvesting of the data of the users happened before a new EU law on data protection comes into force under which the companies could be fined with a maximum of 4 percent of the global turnover for violating.

On Thursday, Vera Jourova, the Justice Commissioner of the European Union informed reporters: “We cannot apply the sanctions which are coming with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) from May onwards.”

The United Kingdom is heading the investigation from the European side. Jourova said that the maximum sanction is 500,000 pounds ($705,000) in the country. She said that this an insignificant amount as compared to the $40.65 billion in revenue of Facebook for last year.

Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament head, invited Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Executive of Facebook, to come to the legislature in order to clarify “how Cambridge Analytica came to use the personal data of millions of people to influence the… U.S. presidential elections and the Brexit referendum.”

Last Wednesday, Zuckerberg released a statement to apologise for the mistakes that his company made and pledged to restrict the access of developers to the information of its users as a part of a plan to improve the privacy protection of the platform.

Jourova said that more than one announcement would be required to renew the trust of the people on Facebook.

She said: “This is much more serious because here we witness the threat to democracy, to democratic plurality. It is endangering the free electoral choices of the people in Europe.”