Labour MEPs: Live webstreaming of Zuckerberg hearing will ensure transparency. Now for the answers

Labour MEPs have welcomed the announcement tomorrow’s hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the abuse of users’ data will be webstreamed live, following pressure from the Socialists and Democrats Group to ensure greater transparency.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“The issues raised by the data abuse scandal affect millions of European citizens, either because they have been directly affected by the practices of Cambridge Analytica or because they are Facebook’s users.

“European citizens need to know what happens and we cannot hide this debate from them, and we welcome Facebook agreeing to the hearing being webstreamed live, following pressure from the Socialists and Democrats Group to ensure the greatest possible transparency. Holding the meeting behind closed doors would have diluted public confidence in the process and in Facebook’s willingness to live up to the responsibilities expected of it.

“Trust in Facebook has suffered as a result of the data breach and it is clear Mr Zuckerberg and Facebook will have to make serious efforts to reverse the situation and to convince individuals that Facebook fully complies with European data protection law. General statements like “we take privacy of our customers very seriously” are not sufficient, they have to comply and demonstrate it, and for the time being this is far from being the case.

“The Cambridge Analytica case was already in breach of the current Data Protection Directive, and would also be contrary to the General Data Protection Regulation, which is soon to be implemented. We expect the EU data protection authorities to take appropriate action to enforce the law.”

Claude Moraes MEP added:

“The most recent revelations may be just the tip of the iceberg – it is therefore imperative European citizens are given greater clarity.

“At the hearing, we will ask crucial questions of Facebook and Mr Zuckerberg, including the possible violation of competition law by merging Facebook data with Instagram and WhatsApp; the protection of privacy and rules on Facebook Apps; and the imbalance in privacy standards between the US and EU.

“We will use this opportunity to gain assurances that Facebook will commit to comply with European data protection standards, which under GDPR are now the strongest in the world. Facebook will also need to show that it will adhere to the comprehensive privacy rights due to be provided by the ePrivacy Regulation, in addition to answering questions about its response to the prevalence of hate speech online and the need for Federal Trade Commission compliance.

“We will not shy away from reporting back to parliament and the wider public on the meeting and will follow up on the hearing; we will continue to expect full cooperation from Facebook and other key organisations as we investigate these issues.”