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Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testimony In Europe: Apologies and Promises

June 2nd, 2018 11:49 am | By admin | Posted In Business News

The last few weeks have been busy for Facebook,  particularly for its CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he appeared on May 22nd to testify before the European Parliament in relation to the privacy scandal in which the firm is involved.

 

Just prior to that, Facebook’s CEO also had to testify for two days before a joint US Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing. Just as he did in the United States, Zuckerberg avoided tough questions from the European Committee. He mostly answered questions with vague phrases and promised future responses, along with apologies for past mistakes concerning the use of private data.

 

This scandal has attracted the interest of politicians, lawmakers, business people and the general public because of the firm’s high profile. Facebook is by far the most important player in the social network landscape. It is not just the application that holds the largest number of members—with more than 2 billion users worldwide—but it also owns other large platforms where millions of individuals share information including Instagram and WhatsApp.

 

With such a large and diverse amount of data collected, stored and updated every second, many regulators think that the firm could take advantage of private information without the explicit permission of its users which, as we know now, is exactly what happened. The bad news began when it was revealed that “87 millions of user’s personal information was harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political consultancy that has counted U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign among its clients”, according to Reuters’ coverage of the matter.

 

That particular incident brought fears about other privacy issues. According to Zuckerberg’s avoidances and affirmations during the hearings it seems like Facebook tracks your Internet activity even outside of Facebook. The website also collects data from people who have not joined social media. The firm has also been accused of purposely making it difficult for users to know and control what happens with their data.

 

Apparently, not just Facebook but also other tech giants have been guilty of not-so-transparent practices. Nevertheless, the majority public opinion says that regulators should receive part of the guilt as legal requirements for big tech companies have been extremely weak in this regard. At least until May 25.

 

Europe tried to be one step ahead of the United States and implemented The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on May 25. This regulation was approved in 2016 but firms had two years to comply. So it seems, consumer’s privacy is finally receiving the government attention it deserves.

 

The GDPR’s main goal is to make it easy for users to control how their data is used. You, as a user, are expected to decide whether or not your data will be erased and if it will be shared with a third party. It will be easier and quicker to separate yourself from a social network whenever you want and, in addition, users should have a clear view of what their data is being used for and when.

 

The GDPR affects companies owned and operated in the European Union but also those that have users or customers in that region. This means that Facebook had to make changes in order to comply. Firms failing to obey the law will be fined with up to 4 percent of their global annual turnover.

 

It is still too soon to see how the Cambridge Analytica scandal will really change the way websites use the data they collect. However, the scandal will forever change the way users question what massive internet companies are doing with the data they get and users are learning to question their rights.

 

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