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EU privacy watchdogs: Facebook apology 'simply is not enough'

EU privacy watchdogs: Facebook apology 'simply is not enough'
© Greg Nash

European privacy watchdogs are planning to investigate data harvesting on social media platforms as Facebook’s data privacy scandal has invited scrutiny from regulators around the world.

Andrea Jelinek, who chairs a coalition of European data watchdogs called Working Party 29, announced on Wednesday that the organization was starting a task force to investigate social media and “develop a long-term strategy on the issue.”

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

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Authorities in the U.S. and Europe are investigating Facebook after it was revealed last month that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that worked for President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE’s 2016 campaign, improperly obtained data from 87 million users.

Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook executive hosted Kavanaugh confirmation celebration Hillicon Valley: Facebook rift over exec's support for Kavanaugh | Dem worried about Russian trolls jumping into Kavanaugh debate | China pushes back on Pence House Democrat questions big tech on possible foreign influence in Kavanaugh debate MORE testified in back-to-back hearings before Congress on the incident and faced a number of questions on privacy and data sharing practices at Facebook. The company is also facing an investigation from the Federal Trade Commission.

Jelinek on Wednesday expressed support for similar probes from European authorities, like the one launched by the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but added that regulators also need to take a broader look at the practice of data harvesting and its implications for internet users.

“This is why we are creating a Social Media Working Group,” Jelinek said. “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.”