In preparation for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect May 25, Facebook announced it is launching a range of new privacy tools in an effort to “put people in more control over their privacy.” Interestingly, last week Mark Zuckerberg clarified that he intends to implement Europe’s GDPR across its entire global network of users, not just those located in the EU. Presumably, this global policy would make it possible for all Facebook users to exercise their data rights, including the potential for users to restrict Facebook processing their personal data if they believe their data is being misused.
“Overall I think regulations like this are very positive,” Zuckerberg stated on a conference call with reporters. “We intend to make all the same controls available everywhere, not just in Europe.” Zuckerberg noted that “Is it going to be exactly the same format? Probably not. We’ll need to figure out what makes sense in different markets with different laws in different places. But let me repeat this, we’re going to make all the same controls and settings available everywhere, not just in Europe.”
This decision marks a shift from Facebook’s previous plans in which only part of its GDPR implementation overhaul was expected to apply outside the EU. Previously, Emily Sharpe, a privacy and public policy manager at Facebook, indicated that only certain features designed to comply with GDPR would be rolled out globally, but that other features designed to obtain users’ online consent to collect their sensitive data like political or religious affiliation were expected to only apply within the EU.
This announcement also comes on the heels of a challenging time for the company as it manages the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica incident. Facebook recently announced that Cambridge Analytica, a British data firm hired by President Trump’s campaign, had improperly gathered detailed information on 87 million users.
Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before Congress twice this week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, to address data privacy issues in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica incident. He’s set to appear before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Tuesday afternoon April 10 at 2:15 p.m. ET, which can be viewed on the Committee for the Judiciary’s website. This will be followed by a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 11 at 10:00 am ET, which can be viewed on YouTube and C-SPAN.