Social Media

'No doubt' other big tech firms could have similar data issues to Facebook, top EU chief warns

Key Points
  • The European Union's GDPR (general data protection rule) is a new law that aims to protect the data of consumers.
  • Facebook has said 87 million users' profiles may have had their data shared without consent to Cambridge Analytica.
  • Jourova called on Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer to European lawmakers.
Afraid that Facebook data issue may also apply to other tech companies: EU

Europe has no doubts that tech firms other than Facebook are affected by privacy and data protection issues similar to the social media giant, European Commissioner Vera Jourova told CNBC.

"I don't have doubts that there are some bad practices among other IT providers and networks. So what I have said about GDPR (the EU's general data protection rule) and our serious intention to have the data of all people protected, it applies to everybody, it's not only related to Facebook," she told CNBC's Arjun Kharpal Friday.

The European Union's GDPR is a new law that aims to protect the data of consumers. The new rules will mean companies — European or not — are forced to remove data they have on EU citizens if requested. Violations of that law could result in a fine of up to 4 percent of annual turnover.

"We want Europeans to be the masters of their privacy and it must be guaranteed by anyone who is collecting the data, who is monetizing and selling the data, and I expect Facebook to take this very seriously."

Why the data scandal matters

Facebook's Sandberg, EU's Jourova have talks on data protection

Facebook is not the only company that could face scrutiny over its data practices.

Other tech giants, like Google and Twitter, keep vast amounts of data on their users. The advent of things like big data and artificial intelligence being used to influence the way people think online are a cause for concern for consumers and regulators alike.

The U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which is currently investigating controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica, is also looking into 29 other organizations, including social media companies, over the use of data for political purposes.

On Thursday, the EU announced the launch of a Social Media Working Group that will develop a united strategy to scrutinize the use of people's personal data.

Facebook has said 87 million users' profiles may have had their data shared without consent to Cambridge Analytica. The data analytics firm is accused of using that data to influence U.S. voters during the 2016 presidential elections, which it has denied.

It obtained Facebook data through a quiz app set up by Aleksandr Kogan, a lecturer at Cambridge University. Cambridge Analytica has said no more than 30 million profiles were shared.

Europeans want significant change from Facebook: Commissioner Jourova

Facebook's Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg spent two days this week on Capitol Hill facing questions from U.S. lawmakers. The CEO told lawmakers that his own data had been compromised due to the data sharing scandal.

He declined an invitation to appear before U.K. lawmakers, but Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfner is set to give evidence instead later this month.

'Mr Zuckerberg should come to Europe'

Jourova also called on Facebook's CEO to answer European lawmakers.

"Mr Zuckerberg should come to Europe because we have many European questions," she said.

Zuckerberg said Wednesday that he would extend the protections encompassed by GDPR internationally. Jourova said this was "good news" but that the EU still had questions to ask the Facebook boss.