In today’s hearing before the House Committee on Commerce and Energy, Mark Zuckerberg stated that the changes Facebook is making in response to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be available worldwide. Zuckerberg made a commitment to not only provide the same privacy controls but making the same kinds of disclosures and treating users’ data the same. The GDPR imposes requirements on how user data is collected, and how user data must be deleted at the user’s request. However, only moments after giving a clear yes, he seemed to equivocate yet again.
“Facebook has committed to abiding by [the GDPR] in Europe and you face large penalties if they don’t,” said Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) in the hearing. “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?”
When Zuckerberg replied that “all the same controls” will be available, the congressman pressed him yet again. “And you commit today that Facebook will extend the same protections to Americans that Europeans will receive under the GDPR?”
The Facebook CEO replied with a clear yes.
But when Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) followed up, Zuckerberg again equivocated about the GDPR.
“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?”
Zuckerberg began to describe the privacy controls they were adding. “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 a control in front of people that walks 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 — ”
The congresswoman interrupted him. “It sounds like it will not be exact.” She ran out of time before she could press him any further.
In yesterday’s hearing before the Senate, Zuckerberg was similarly ambiguous about whether this would be the case, possibly because his crib sheet (photographed yesterday by the AP), says in bolded text, “GDPR (Don’t say we already do what the GDPR requires).”
It’s not known whether Facebook is in GDPR compliance at the moment. The new rules go into effect on May 25th.