EU Demands Facebook to Stop Sending Its Lobbyists


Facebook has dramatically increased its spending on lobbying efforts both in the United States and Europe. While that may be working in the US, it appears Europeans are tired of the social networking giant sending lobbyists instead of its own staff to answer questions on user privacy and data security.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to a hearing in Europe last month but tried his best to keep it behind closed doors. However, after criticism from both the public and some Members of the Parliament, the hearing was live-streamed on May 22. But that didn't help EU get any better answers since Zuckerberg simply repeated what he had already said during the two-days long marathon back in Washington.

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More sessions, more questions, but no new answers expected from Facebook's lobbyists in EU

In more similar hearings planned for June 25 and July 2 in Brussels and Strasbourg, respectively, Facebook has been asked to send his staff, including the COO Sheryl Sandberg, to attend the meetings with the European Parliament. However, the company continues to propose sending its policy lobbyists instead of those who are actually running the company.

"I would like to stress it is essential for Facebook’s credibility to show its commitment that you send staff members that are in charge of the departments concerned in your company and not public policy team members," civil liberties committee chairman Claude Moraes wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg as seen by TNW. "This meeting would be an opportunity for your company to convey the commitments it has made on implementation of existing legislation and to present the steps that will take in the future."

The letter demands that Zuckerberg sends Sandberg and other executives, including Erin Egan, Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer; Joel Kaplan, Vice President of Global Public Policy, and Rob Goldman, Facebook's Vice President for Advertisements.

Reports reveal that Facebook spent 2.25 million in 2017 to influence EU institutions, double than what it spent in 2016. TNW reported that company also spends 750,000 euros each year on the lobby consultancy services offered by third-party companies, such as FTI Consulting, Teneo-Cabinet DN,  and Flint Global. Back in the United States, following the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal, the company broke all previous records by spending $3.3 million in the first few months of 2018.

Since then, the company has faced even more privacy disasters and subsequent questions from the lawmakers both at home and abroad. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Facebook gave device makers access to user data. This was followed by the company's admission yesterday that it inadvertently set privacy settings of up to 14 million users to "public."

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