The time for excuses for data breaches is now over. This must stop at once. European citizens should have their minds put to rest that their personal data remains personal, and doesn’t end up on hackers’ computers. That is the main message of a draft Resolution adopted today by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.
Referring to the recent data breach involving over 50 million Facebook accounts, Axel Voss MEP, who has followed the issue closely over the past months, said: “News about data misuse has unfortunately become something we are getting more and more used to. Even though it is impossible to completely prevent data misuse, we ask for transparency to be at the centre of every feature Facebook and other social media companies offer and for the disclosure of mechanisms they use for its newsfeeds.”
One of the biggest risks of the misuse of personal data is election interference. “Next May, 500 million citizens will be called to vote in the European elections. This, along with several national elections taking place every weekend across the continent. What guarantee do we have that personal data is not being used to manipulate voters? This is why all online platforms must start distinguishing between the political and commercial use of the advertising services they offer. Every Facebook, Twitter or Instagram user needs to know when he or she is being targeted by political messages instead of just reading an entertaining article”, said Voss, explaining one of the major appeals of the Resolution.
Voss disagrees, however, with a part of the Resolution calling for the suspension of the Privacy Shield, an agreement between the US and the EU on the safe transfer of personal data by companies: “Thanks to the Privacy Shield, we can be informed about investigation results of the US authorities which are currently looking into past alleged privacy rules breaches by Facebook. The agreed framework guarantees the same level of treatment of those who breach agreed rules both on EU and US soil”, Voss concluded.
The draft Resolution is a follow-up of a series of meetings between MEPs and Facebook representatives over the past few months. The final version of the text should be adopted at the European Parliament’s second October plenary session.