German minister wants Facebook to be more transparent, criticises the plan to transfer user data from EU to US

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

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.

A figurine is seen in front of the Facebook logo. Image: Reuters

A figurine is seen in front of the Facebook logo. Image: Reuters

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 4 May, Xinhua news agency reported.

While the minister welcomed certain changes Facebook 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.

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 1 May, 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.

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.




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