Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces EU Parliament grilling

Facebook in EUFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies as lengthy questions left the 34-year-old American little time to answer, Reuters.

Zuckerberg took 10 minutes to tender apologises to leaders of the European Parliament in Brussels for a massive data leak, in his latest attempt to draw a line under the damaging scandal.

He avoided answering specific questions, notably around opt-outs from targeted advertising, the sharing of data between Facebook and its messaging service WhatsApp, as well as Facebook’s collection of data on non-users.

He spoke for over half an hour in total, mostly repeating assurances and descriptions of Facebook plans that he detailed to U.S. lawmakers during 10 hours of hearings in Washington last month. Though some questions were sharp, there was no chance for the Europeans to follow up if they felt the answers fell short.

“I asked you six ‘yes or no’ questions; I got not a single answer,” said Philippe Lamberts of the Greens, one of 12 party leaders and lead legislators whose questions to Zuckerberg took up nearly half of a hearing – broadcast live after complaints about an original plan for a closed-door meeting.

Zuckerberg had agreed to meet the lawmakers to answer questions about how political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly got hold of the personal data of 87 million Facebook users, including up to 2.7 million in the EU.

The dozen MEPs then asked their questions, ranging from the German conservative leader asking Zuckerberg why his giant firm should not be broken up as a monopoly to complaints from Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, and an ally of French nationalist Marine Le Pen, that Facebook was now biased against right-wing parties.

Zuckerberg’s appearance in Brussels came three days before tough new EU rules on data protection take effect. Companies will be subject to fines of up to 4 percent of global turnover for breaching them.

Zuckerberg said Facebook expected to be compliant with the EU rules, called the General Data Protection Regulation, when they come into force on Friday, stressing a commitment to Europe where Facebook will employ 10,000 people by the end of the year.

He avoided giving details about how non-Facebook users could stop the company from collecting their data, abruptly changing the subject to the company’s relationship with third-party apps.

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended 200 apps from its platforms as it investigates third-party apps that have access to large quantities of user data. Zuckerberg said he expected more apps to be penalised.

Cambridge Analytica and its British parent, SCL Elections, have declared bankruptcy and closed down.

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