World

Zuckerberg stops short of extending European privacy policy

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that he agreed "in spirit" with a strict new European Union law on data privacy but stopped short of committing to it as the standard for the social network across the world.

As Facebook reels from a scandal over the mishandling of personal information belonging to millions of users, the company is facing demands to improve privacy and learn lessons from the landmark EU law scheduled to take effect next month.

Mr Zuckerberg told Reuters in a phone interview that Facebook was working on a version of the law that would work globally, bringing some European privacy guarantees worldwide, but the 33-year-old billionaire demurred when asked what parts of the law he would not extend worldwide.

"We're still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing," he said. He did not elaborate.

The European law, called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is the biggest overhaul of online privacy since the birth of the Internet, giving Europeans the right to know what data is stored on them and the right to have it deleted.

Apple and some other tech firms have said they do plan to give people in the US and elsewhere the same protections that Europeans will gain.

"We want Facebook and Google and all the other companies to immediately adopt in the United States and worldwide any new protections that they implement in Europe," said Mr Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, in Washington.

Mr Zuckerberg said many of the tools that are part of the law, such as the ability of users to delete all their data, are already available for people on Facebook.

"We think that this is a good opportunity to take that moment across the rest of the world," he said.

Yesterday, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that Mr Zuckerberg will testify before a US congressional committee on April 11 following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. - REUTERS

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