Facebook must comply with European privacy laws in 'real life,' EU's digital policy chief say

  • In an effort to give consumers greater control over how their personal details are used, Europe is set to impose sweeping changes to data laws on Friday.
  • Earlier in the week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before European lawmakers to apologize for the social media giant's role in a massive data leak.
  • When asked whether he believed Facebook was ready for the introduction of GDPR, Andrus Ansip, the European Commission's vice president for digital issues, replied: "The short answer is yes, but let's see what we get from real life."

The European Union's digital policy chief has urged Facebook to stick to its promise and abide by the region's more stringent data protection rules.

In an effort to give consumers greater control over how their personal details are used, Europe is set to impose sweeping changes to data laws on Friday. The introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes at a time when Facebook is receiving widespread criticism for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and for allowing fake news to flourish on its platform.

"I get the feeling that Facebook is taking all those issues connected with the privacy of our people very seriously," Andrus Ansip, the European Commission's vice president for digital issues, told CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche Thursday.

Europe and Facebook must 'work together'

Earlier in the week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before European lawmakers to apologize for the social media giant's role in a massive data leak. However, his testimony did not satisfy all members of the European Parliament, with some feeling Zuckerberg had dodged a number of their questions.

Ahead of Tuesday's grilling, Zuckerberg had claimed Facebook would be "fully compliant" by the time Europe's changes to privacy laws were introduced.

When asked whether he believed Facebook was ready for the introduction of GDPR, Ansip replied: "The short answer is yes, but let's see what we get from real life."

"Facebook is taking this scandal with Cambridge Analytica very seriously. They are dealing with fake accounts and they are trying to figure out who is behind some kind of information campaigns… (But) we have to work together."

Facebook recently transferred around 1.5 billion of its international users from the jurisdiction of its European headquarters, in Ireland, to its U.S. headquarters instead. That move triggered some external observers to criticize the social media company for allegedly trying to evade the prospect of costly repercussions from any breaches of GDPR.

The changes to data laws are expected to have a far-reaching impact on some of the biggest technology firms in the world.