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Facebook tasks regulators, governments on stronger privacy, data rules

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. PHOTO: SUSANA BATES / AFP

Facebook Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, has called for regulators and governments to take a deeper role in policing the Internet and introduce stronger data rules, as intense scrutiny of the company’s activities continues.

In an open letter published on its website, Zuckerberg said authorities needed to play a more active role, with global rules required in four areas: protecting against harmful content; election integrity; privacy; and data portability.

Despite the company’s well-documented controversies on use and protection of its own customer data, the executive praised the impact of GDPR regulation in Europe and promoted adoption of similar regulation elsewhere.

“People around the world have called for comprehensive privacy regulation in line with the European Union’s GDPR, and I agree. I believe it would be good for the internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework,” he said.

“New privacy regulation in the United States and around the world should build on the protections GDPR provides,” Zuckerberg noted. “It should protect your right to choose how your information is used, while enabling companies to use information for safety purposes and to provide services.”

The rules should also “establish a way to hold companies such as Facebook accountable by imposing sanctions when we make mistakes”.

Although bullish about the need for tight data regulations, the executive has refused to meet UK regulators to discuss the well-publicised Cambridge Analytica scandal. When he appeared in front of European Parliament committees and US officials to discuss the issue he was accused of failing to answer direct questions.

The comments comes after news broke of its latest privacy scandal and two months after the company vowed to fight a fine on its use of customer data by Germany’s competition regulator. The two are the latest in a long line of accusations related to privacy, security and data issues levelled at the social media company.

Facebook also faces growing pressure for perceived failings in blocking and deleting controversial, offensive and politically biased content uploaded onto its platforms. The company said it has recently introduced a number of new policies to remove offensive content.


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