The president and founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, questioned by a parliamentary committee in the House of Representatives, on April 11, 2018 in Washington
„Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg.“ These words delivered by a senior European official this week illustrates the satisfaction in Brussels over the debates in the United States, where European plans to tame the digital industry are now well-regarded.
The protection of personal data in the European way has often been seen on the other side of the Atlantic as a brake, even protectionist, on the boom of the sector, as well as EU projects to impose on the internet giants and their imposing fines to Google or Apple.
But the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company that exploited the data of millions of Facebook users without their permission, seems to have reversed the situation, forcing even Mark Zuckerberg to multiply his apologies … and to adopt the strict European model .
Little known until a few weeks ago, the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD), which will enter into force on May 25 in the EU two years after its adoption, was mentioned several times during the hearings of the CEO of Facebook before the US congressmen this week.
European standards, which will oblige companies to have the explicit consent of users in the EU to use their data, are a „positive step“, Zuckerberg added. The regulation foresees sanctions of up to 4% of the world turnover in case of violation of it.
„I was really desperate thinking about how to make the best possible campaign for the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD). Now it’s done, so thank you Mr. Zuckerberg,“ Justice and Consumers Commissioner Vera Jourova held on Wednesday.
The founder of Facebook „had always said the opposite“, that the new norms „would kill internet“, remembers in an interview with the AFP the MEP Viviane Reding (PPE, right), who launched the RGPD project during his time as European commissioner in 2012.
The Facebook data scandal
„Our regulation is now seen as a positive step for the future development of the internet,“ says Reding, comparing the „alarm signal“ in the United States with the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the situation in the EU with the revelations of the consultant Edward Snowden. about the practices of American intelligence.
The US lawmakers who interrogated Zuckerberg „studied European legislation in depth,“ says Luxembourg policy. They understood that „this model does not destroy the Internet, but rather it is the basis for its balanced development“.
„US parliamentarians contact us to learn from our experience,“ Portuguese Social-Democratic MEP Maria João Rodrigues noted with satisfaction, recalling how some European governments criticized the RGPD at the beginning.
„The lucidity shown by the EU was confirmed“ in front of those who said that „we should not create obstacles to the digital economy,“ says environmental activist Jan Albrecht, an activist for data protection.
– Also in the EU –
With the new regulation, the EU seeks that „technological developments are adapted to social values, instead of having to adapt the values of society to new technologies,“ said Guillermo Beltrà, an expert from the European Office of Consumer Unions (BEUC, for its acronym in French).
„We will have to see if this good law on paper will be effective in practice,“ he told AFP.
Although Europeans can welcome their data protection legislation, they are not left out of certain practices within the EU, warns Viviane Reding.
„The political parties have subscribed similar systems to those of Cambridge Analytica in Europe,“ says the former Justice Commissioner, for whom „they have not only been used in the case [of US President Donald] Trump and Brexit.“
The Luxemburg MEP considers that „there are political parties that use methods prohibited by law, so there will be quite painful discussions in many European countries.“