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German Minister Advises Facebook to Become More Transparent

Several publications in Germany participating in the "Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland" (RND) editorial network cited the letter on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The minister argued that the commercial sale of user data by Facebook directly affected key rights enjoyed by the citizens.
Katarina Barley, German Minister of Justice- wikimedia commons
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With the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealing massive misuse of Facebook users data, Germany’s justice minster has said that the social network must bring changes and become more transparent with users.

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Katarina Barley also said that the social network needs to give its users “real control” over their data and set up new internal supervisory mechanisms to ensure that formal guidelines are upheld in Facebook’s dealings with third party advertising clients.

Several publications in Germany participating in the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” (RND) editorial network cited the letter on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

While the minister welcomed certain changes the social site had brought about to protect user privacy, Barley wrote that Facebook had so far failed to assume responsibility for its inappropriate corporate behaviour and criticised plans to transfer the storage of some user data from the European Union (EU) to the US.

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealing massive misuse of Facebook users data, Germany's justice minster has said that the social network must bring changes and become more transparent with users.
Facebook. Pixabay

European users of the service currently benefited from enhanced online privacy protection enshrined in EU law.

The minister argued that the commercial sale of user data by Facebook directly affected key rights enjoyed by the citizens.

She described the use of such sensitive data to politically influence or manipulate voters as unacceptable.

Facebook admitted that the data of up to 87 million users was passed on illegally to Cambridge Analytica.

The information was used in an attempt to support the election campaign of US President Donald Trump. Up to 310,000 Germans were affected by the scandal as well.

In its F8 developers’ conference in San Jose on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said the company was taking a broader view of its responsibility by not only giving people powerful tools, but also making sure those tools are used for good.

Also Read: New NASA Mission to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars  

Among the biggest announcements made in the conference was Facebook’s plans to build a “Clear History” privacy tool which will enable users to see the websites and apps that send information to Facebook when they use them.

The tool, Facebook said, will also enable the users to delete this information from their account, and turn off Facebook’s ability to store it.

In her letter, Barley, however, warned that she will keep a close eye on the further measures taken by Facebook. (IANS)

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The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

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European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova attends an interview with Reuters at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

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An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

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U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

Also Read: EU Regulators Question Online Retailer Amazon’s Data Usage

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer. (VOA)