Portrait of Mark Zuckerberg drawn to the video shot during his hearing before the european parliament, 22 may 2018 (Photo -. EBS)
“I’m sorry”. The boss of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Mark Zuckerberg, presented on Tuesday his apology in front of the european Parliament, as he had done before the american congressmen, for the shortcomings of its social network in the protection of data of its users, as illustrated by the scandal in Cambridge Analytica.
But the format of the hearing has caused a lot of frustration : the time for questions was much longer than the responses of the American.
A dark suit and burgundy tie, Mr. Zuckerberg appeared smiling but a little stiff, attentive to the side of the president of the Parliament, Antonio Tajani. The hearing in Brussels took place before the heads of political groups in the Parliament, but, under the pressure of several of them, has finally been streamed live on the internet.
False information, interference from abroad in elections or developers using the wrong personal information : Facebook has not taken its responsibilities, has recognized Mark Zuckerberg.
“It was a mistake, and I’m sorry”, he said in his introduction. As already in Washington last month.
The new apology from the founder of Facebook have earned him a tancé by Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberals (ALDE group). “It’s been three times already since the beginning of the year,” he started.
“How do you want us to remember you ? As one of the three giants of the internet with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs ? Or as a genius, missed having created a monster digital that is destroying our democracies,” challenged Mr. Verhofstadt.
-Control and responsibility-
The intervention in Brussels to Mark Zuckerberg has taken place in the three days of the entry into force Friday, european legislation aimed to better protect the personal data of Europeans, one of the most advanced in this area.
The boss of Facebook has ensured that its social network shared fully with the three principles at the heart of the new european regulation : “Control, Transparency and Accountability”. And that Facebook will comply with the european legislation as soon as Friday.
The network will provide the same level of control to “all customers” in the world, he promised. In particular, the possibility to erase its history in the same way that one can clear their “cookies” on the internet.
Antonio Tajani thanked the young american billionaire of his presence a year of the european elections of 2019. “We need to protect the personal data of citizens (who are) become a resource of inestimable value,” observed the Italian.
For his part, Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that Facebook had been “too slow to identify the interference in Russian” in the us presidential election of 2016, but has stated that his company worked with the european governments, in view of the upcoming elections.
“Today was a first step for Facebook to restore confidence, and there will be others,” responded the european commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova.
According to figures provided by Facebook to the european Commission, the data of “up to 2.7 million” Europeans have been able to be passed on to “inappropriately” to the firm, Cambridge Analytica, involved in the campaign for the presidential election of Donald Trump.
Mark Zuckerberg has announced a lot of changes, and in particular on the transparency of the advertising policies. I want to believe that these are signs” showing that Facebook will show more of “responsibility,” retorted Mrs. Jourova.
– ‘Vague promises’ –
“Vague promises”, criticized the leaders of the group of the Greens in Parliament, Philippe Lamberts and Ska Keller. “Not very convincing”, found Manfred Weber, the head of the european people’s Party (EPP, right, the main political force in the chamber).
Because the hearing in brussels was followed by a concert of comments which poured forth the disappointment.
“What this hearing has highlighted, is that we still do not know to what extent the personal data have been misused. That is, until we know really what happened, and is happening still, Facebook and the legislators cannot put in place the right solutions to prevent the same problems (to repeat) in the future,” said Syed Kamall, the leader of the conservatives.
“The u.s. Congress had the right format of the hearing, but stated that easy questions. The Parliament had the right questions, but an easy which has allowed Zuckerberg to avoid the answers”, summarised mep ecologist German Sven Giegold.
Last month, the american congressmen were subjected for several hours, the billionaire with a rain of questions to understand how the firm’s Cambridge Analytica had been able to operate without their knowledge, for political purposes, the data of tens of millions of users of Facebook.
The “general Regulation on data protection (RGPD) will create and / or strengthen individual rights and impose strict obligations on businesses that collect or deal with personal information of Europeans, wherever they are established.
On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg should be part of the fifty-odd leaders of major companies of the digital received in Paris by the French president Emmanuel Macron.