Claude Moraes: "We have to look at how social platforms are used for campaigns" 

Claude Moraes  

Facebook should make substantial changes to its platform to ensure it complies with EU data protection law, according to a resolution adopted by MEPs on 25 October.

The resolution by the civil liberties committee concludes a series of hearing on the Cambridge scandal in which the data of 87 million Facebook users was improperly obtained and misused. The resolution will now be debated by MEPs during the plenary session on 23 October. We talked to committee chair Claude Moraes, a UK member of the S&D group, about the resolution.

What was your biggest takeaway from the hearings? What are the most pressing issues?

The hearings were an opportunity to examine the implications of the scandal for data protection and privacy, electoral processes and consumer trust, in addition to exploring possible policy solutions and remedies.

While many questions remain unanswered, a clear takeaway is that more action is needed to enforce the law and ensure real transparency from companies such as Facebook in terms of data processing methods, tracking, profiling and the use of algorithms in order to ensure consumer trust and respect for privacy.

This resolution makes clear that we expect measures to be taken to protect citizens’ right to private life, data protection and freedom of expression.

How do we prevent a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

Improvements have been made since the scandal, but, as the Facebook data breach of 50 million accounts showed just last month, these do not go far enough. Today, we are calling for a number of measures to prevent a repeat of the scandal including an audit into the activities of the advertising industry on social media and for data protection authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into Facebook to ensure that data protection rights are upheld.

How can we ensure that Facebook, as a private company, safeguards our data?

We expect all companies to comply with EU data protection law, that help is provided to users to understand how their personal information is processed, and that effective controls are available, including greater transparency in terms of privacy settings.

It is equally important that EU member states implement the GDPR and the European Commission should take the appropriate steps to monitor the implementation and application of this legislation to ensure the protection of all European citizens.

European elections are coming up. How can we prevent the manipulation of the electoral process?

Recent requirements that have been introduced in the US to verify the identity, location and sponsor of political advertisements are a good response and the same standards should be applied here in the EU. In addition, we have to look at how political parties and campaigns are using social platforms for campaign purposes. A code of conduct with the participation of all actors concerned needs to be developed. If not, legislative action will be required.

This resolution makes clear that we expect measures to be taken to protect citizens’ right to private life, data protection and freedom of expression.

Claude Moraes