The European Union on Wednesday thanked Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg for highlighting the bloc’s tough new data protection rules after he said the social media giant planned to follow them during grilling by US lawmakers.
The EU’s justice and consumer commissioner Vera Jourova said it was “only good news” that Zuckerberg had acknowledged Facebook planned to follow the bloc’s strict new rules worldwide.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on May 25, gives web users much greater control over how their personal information is stored and used, with big fines for companies that break the rules.
“I was really desperate about thinking how to make the best possible campaign for GDPR so now this is well done, so thank you Mr Zuckerberg,” Jourova told reporters in Brussels.
“His declaration that they want to expand our European rules globally, it’s only good news, it sounds very nice to me.”
During questioning by US senators on Tuesday over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckerberg said Facebook was “committed to rolling out the controls and the affirmative consent” required by the new EU rules “around the world”.
Under the new rules, companies will need explicit consent from users to share their data with third parties and people will have the right to know what personal information is stored about them and to ask for it to be deleted.
Breaches can lead to heavy fines – up to four percent of a company’s global turnover.
Zuckerberg said he took personal responsibility for the fact that 87 million people’s personal data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a firm working for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The EU has shown it is willing to take on American web giants, dishing out massive financial penalties to the likes of Apple and Google in recent years and lining up a new digital tax specifically targeting US tech companies.