NEWS13 April 2018

EU data privacy group to investigate social media harvesting

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BELGIUM – The Working Party 29, an umbrella group bringing together Europe’s data protection authorities, has announced it is establishing a social media working group to investigate the collection and use of personal data.

EU data privacy abstract image

The coalition, which is assisting and supporting the information commissioner’s office (ICO) in its ongoing investigation of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook over the use of data and analytics for political purposes, said that the social network company’s apology for the recent data scandal “simply is not enough”.

The newly created group will seek to develop a long-term strategy on the issue of personal data, collected via social media, being used for political or economic purposes.

Andrea Jelinek, chair of Working Party 29, said: “We are at the start of a new era of data protection. The protection of individuals against unlawful use of their personal data on social media platforms will be one of our key priorities.

“A multi-billion dollar social media platform saying it is sorry simply is not enough. While Cambridge Analytica and Facebook are on top of everyone’s mind we aim to cast our net wider and think long-term.”

Jelinek added: “What we are seeing today is most likely only one instance of the much wider spread practice of harvesting personal data from social media for economic or political reasons.”

Working Party 29 is made up of a representative from the data protection authority of each EU member state, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Commission. The group will be replaced by the European Data Protection Board on the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May.

Jelinek said the work of the social media working group would continue after the European Data Protection Board is established. 

Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, appeared in a two-day US congressional hearing earlier this week, facing questions from senators over the company’s data privacy issues.