Facebook has agreed to increased data transparency standards, including explicitly stating how it makes use of users’ data and also assuming more responsibility for how data collected from its platform is handled by third parties. The decision comes in the wake of increasing pressure from the European Commission to do more to protect the privacy rights of Facebook users.
In a statement, European Union commissioner Vera Jourová highlighted the increasing lack of patience the EU has had with Facebook users’ data being compromised with frequent data breaches, including one that saw the personal details of 540 million accounts exposed on Amazon Web Services servers.
Facebook has been wrestling with fears that with every day seeming to bring some kind of new data security scandal, governments would be increasingly likely to step in and attempt to solve the problem through regulation. That’s a scenario the company wants to avoid at all costs, making its choice to self-regulate in the face of increasing pressure less surprising.
Managing director of EU affairs Thomas Myrup Kristensen had this to say:
“We’ve been doing a lot of work this year to better explain how Facebook works, what data we collect and how we use it. As part of these ongoing efforts, we’ll be updating our Terms of Service to be more clear about how Facebook makes money.”
Will it be Enough to Appease Lawmakers?
It remains to be seen if these measures will be enough to convince lawmakers that the company is now taking legal and ethical concerns seriously. Although European lawmakers wield the most power, many other countries in the bloc are currently exploring the possibility of crafting their own legislation.
If Facebook cannot convince lawmakers of their ability to handle the problem, its possible the entire social media landscape could be altered through a slow balkanization process that could force the company to comply with disparate regulatory schemes and requirements across multiple jurisdictions.