EU consumer chief ‘impatient’ with Facebook over data
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s lack of action in complying with the bloc’s demands to be more transparent with users about their data.
EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova said she’s still waiting for results from long-running discussions with the social media giant over updating its terms of service.
The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.
“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.
The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect users and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.
Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.
“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said. Jourova expects to receive the company’s proposed changes by mid-October so they can go into effect by December.
Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes proposed at that point by EU authorities.
“Our terms are now much clearer on what is and what isn’t allowed on Facebook and on the options people have,” the company said in a statement.
Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.
Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.
The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.
Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.
Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and that it’s pleased to work with authorities to make this even clearer. /ee