• During his testimony to the House Committee on Commerce and Energy, Zuckerberg stated that he plans to extend GDPR rules at a worldwide level.
  • Senator Green proceeded to ask the Facebook CEO on whether the GDPR rules will be followed in America with exact similarity to that of EU.
  • Zuckerberg started making ambiguous remarks on the question which dragged the topic until the senator’s time was up.

Zuckerberg gave his testimony to the House Committee on Commerce and Energy today and stated that Facebook has plans to implement the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on a worldwide scale.

The GDPR imposes certain requirements that compel companies to provide better privacy controls, the option to delete all user data if that is what the user demands, a much more transparent system to let users know that their information is being gathered, and so on. However, the GDPR is only valid for countries in the EU.

Now, Zuckerberg has committed during the hearing that Facebook will be providing the same attitude to user data collection and user privacy at a worldwide level as intended under GDPR guidelines.

Following these claims by Facebook’s CEO, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) asked, “Facebook has committed to abiding by [the GDPR] in Europe, and you face large penalties if they don’t. […] In recent days you’ve said that Facebook intends to make the same settings available to users everywhere, not only in Europe. Did I understand correctly that Facebook would not only make the same settings available but that it will make the same protections available that they will make the Europeans?

GDPR in America
Image Courtesy of Insurance Journal

Zuckerberg replied to the question by answering that “all the same controls” will be available. The response failed to satisfy the congresswoman as it avoided mentioning the terms – “the same settings” or “the same protection” which were Green’s actual interest.

She further reiterated her question – “and you commit today that Facebook will extend the same protections to Americans that Europeans will receive under the GDPR?” to which Zuckerberg stated, “yes.

Now Green wasn’t pleased with the ambiguity present in Zuckerberg’s responses, so she again rephrased her question as, “Is your response that exactly the protections that are guaranteed, not just the controls but all the rights required under the General Data Protection Regulations will be applied to Americans as well?

Following this, Zuckerberg started to describe how Facebook will extend GDPR rules to Americans, “Congresswoman, the GDPR has a bunch of different important pieces. One is offering controls over — that we’re doing. The second is around pushing for affirmative consent and putting control in front of people that walk people through their choices. We’re going to do that, too. … We’re going to put a tool at the top of people’s apps that walks them through their settings —” but was abruptly interrupted by Green as she pointed, “it sounds like it will not be exact.

After this, the senator’s time ran out and so the question wasn’t entertained any further. It should be noted that in the previous hearing – in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee – Zuckerberg had a similar ambiguous attitude while answering GDPR related issues. This might be due to the notes Zuckerberg brought in during the hearing which cited “GDPR (Don’t say we already do what the GDPR requires).

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