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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017 at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Critics Scoff at Zuckerberg's Promise to Comply With New Privacy Rules 'In Spirit'

"This interview should make clear Facebook will only self-regulate to the extent that it doesn't threaten its data-hoarding business model."

Jake Johnson

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made headlines last month after suggesting that perhaps his company should be more tightly regulated following the massive Cambridge Analytica breach, but the mega-billionaire said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday that his company doesn't plan to comply with the European Union's strict new data privacy regulations across the globe.

When asked which parts of the EU's law he plans to extend to the United States and other countries with large populations of Facebook users, Zuckerberg said the company is "still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing."

Critics immediately seized upon Zuckerberg's "in spirit" remark as evidence that Facebook's promises to impose stricter privacy protections are more about quelling public outrage than substantially shifting the company's lucrative data-mining practices.

"This interview should make clear Facebook will only self-regulate to the extent that it doesn't threaten its data-hoarding business model," argued Gizmodo's Tom McKay in response to Zuckerberg's comments. "Got any complaints? Good luck complaining to the band of corporate-friendly stooges currently in control of the [U.S] government."

Set to go into effect in May, the EU's "General Data Protection Regulation" (GDPR)—which Reuters calls "the biggest overhaul of online privacy since the birth of the internet"—will require companies to receive clear consent from users before collecting their data and allow users to erase personal data that has been stored.

Natasha Lomas of Techcrunch argued on Wednesday that Zuckerberg's hesitance to apply the GDPR globally could have something to do with its rules requiring the company to be transparent about its profiling practices, which would affect "the core of the company's ad targeting business model."

"So perhaps Zuckerberg thinks Americans might balk if they really understood how pervasively [Facebook] tracks them when it has to explain exactly what it's doing—as indeed some Facebook users did recently, when they found out Messenger had been logging their call and SMS metadata," Lomas wrote.

Zuckerberg's interview with Reuters came just hours before lawmakers confirmed on Wednesday that he will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week.

"This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online," Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the top lawmakers on the committee, said in a joint statement.


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