Facebook hearing bolsters demand for regulation in Europe

Facebook hearing bolsters demand for regulation in Europe
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Facebook hearing bolsters demand for regulation in Europe

Facebook hearing bolsters demand for regulation in Europe

LONDON — Congressional testimony from Facebook whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, has intensified calls in Europe for new rules aimed at the social media company and other Silicon Valley giants, with the proposals considered by many to be the most drastic and far-reaching. World.

Ms Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who testified on Tuesday about the company’s inner workings and what she says hurts society, called for stricter oversight with top policymakers in Brussels, Britain and France. talked about. He followed up his testimony in Brussels on Wednesday with European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who is taking a leading role in drafting EU legislation to curtail the power of tech companies.

“She reaffirmed the importance and urgency of why we are pushing to rein in the big platforms,” Breton said in an interview after the call with Ms. “Now there is a strong desire to finalize it as soon as possible.”

The reaction in Europe adds to Facebook’s growing challenges. Ms Haugen’s internal document, first reported last month by The Wall Street Journal, sparked new bipartisan calls in Congress for laws aimed at social media platforms. On Monday, Facebook suffered a global outage, wiping out access to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for several hours, a breakdown that demonstrated how essential the company’s products have become to daily life.

The European Union has for years been viewed as the world’s leading tech industry regulator on issues including antitrust and data privacy, and its regulations often serve as a model for other countries. Laws expected to be adopted as early as next year would allow Facebook and other Internet companies to impose stricter rules on their platforms, and add tighter competition rules in an effort to reduce their dominance over the digital economy.

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In her testimony, Ms Haugen outlined several views that EU officials have debated over the past year.

One of the proposals, the Digital Services Act, includes transparency requirements, which Ms. Hogen said during her testimony, requiring Facebook and other large tech platforms to inform regulators and outside researchers about their services, algorithms and content moderation practices. details were required to be disclosed. The draft law could force Facebook and other tech giants to conduct annual risk assessments in areas such as the spread of misinformation and hateful content.

Another EU proposal, the Digital Markets Act, would introduce new competition regulation for the largest tech platforms, limiting their ability to exercise their dominance with one product to gain an edge over rivals in another product category. include prohibition.

Key differences remain among European policymakers about how far the new laws should reach, particularly rules on user-generated content that raise concerns about freedom of speech. But some top policymakers point to Ms Haugen’s testimony as evidence of her acting aggressively.

Danish member of the European Parliament, Christel Schaldmöz, who played a key role in drafting the Digital Services Act, said she spoke with Ms Haugen a few weeks ago.

“She told me to push for regulating the platforms,” Ms Shaldemos said in an email. “And that’s what I’m working on. Transparency and accountability of algorithms in particular.”

Alexandra Geese, an MP in the European Parliament from Germany who has also been in touch with Ms Hogen, said the global outage this week as well as her disclosures to lawmakers and journalists demonstrated Facebook’s uncontrollable power and influence.

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“Whatever trust you may have in the company has been destroyed,” Ms Geese said. “Now we know we need to regulate because the company won’t stop breaking things. And breaking things means breaking people and democracy.”

On Wednesday, Ms Haugen also had a video call with European Commission Vice President Vera Jorova, who has played a key role on the EU’s data protection and misinformation policies. “This conversation confirmed to me that Europe’s direction on technology is right,” Ms Jaurova said on Twitter. “We need to provide rules and make platforms more accountable.”

In France, Ms. Haugen has spoken with the country’s Secretary of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications, Cédric O.

Facebook said on Wednesday that it agreed the new regulation is needed, although it opposed some key areas of EU proposals to meet transparency requirements, conduct risk assessments and detect illegal content, goods and services. Is.

“Every day, we make difficult decisions about drawing the line between free expression and harmful speech, privacy, security and other issues,” Facebook spokesperson Robin Koch said in a statement. “But we shouldn’t make these decisions ourselves, which is why we’ve been advocating for updated rules for years, where democratically elected legislators set industry standards that we can all follow.”

Ms Haugen is scheduled to travel to Europe in the coming weeks. He is set to meet with EU policymakers about new proposals to regulate social media and speak at an industry conference, the Web Summit, which starts in Portugal from 1 November.

Ms Haugen is also scheduled to testify before a British committee to draft a law that would create a new internet regulator and allow Facebook and other internet companies to access harmful content online, particularly targeted at young people. , or risk fines and other penalties.

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Damien Collins, the chairman of the British panel that helped draft the law, said he had spoken to Ms Haugen about the law.

“We’ve been talking about this for years and now is the time to act,” he said. “For years, Facebook has been hiding behind a wall of privacy, but now it’s starting to fall. We don’t believe Facebook can regulate itself. This is why the UK government probes into the failure of big tech companies.” Making a law to create an online security regulator with legal powers to act and take action against them.

Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies are investing significant resources in lobbying Europe to shape policies to their liking, fearing that the ideas will be adopted elsewhere in the world.

According to the Corporate Europe Observatory, a watchdog group, in Brussels, the tech industry spends more than any other sector lobbying the European Union, above the pharmaceutical, fossil fuel, finance and chemical industries.

Beeban Kidron, who is helping draft Britain’s online harm law, said European policymakers should act quickly, but the most meaningful changes would come if the new laws were adopted in the United States.

“Only when American parents say they have had enough and US lawmakers work together, will we be able to build a digital world worthy of children,” said Ms. Kidrone, chair of the 5Rights Foundation, a children’s rights organization.

alien peltier Contributed reporting from Brussels.

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