Facebook asked George Osborne to influence EU data protection law

Bill Goodwin, Duncan Campbell and Sebastian Klovig Skelton, computerweekly.com, Facebook asked George Osborne to influence EU data protection law

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The information is prepared by the team of the COMPACT project.

COMPACT is a Coordination and Support Action funded European Commission under framework Horizon 2020.

The objective of the COMPACT project is to increase awareness (including scientific, political, cultural, legal, economic and technical areas) of the latest technological discoveries among key stakeholders in the context of social media and convergence. The project will offer analyses and road maps of related initiatives. In addition, extensive research on policies and regulatory frameworks in media and content will be developed.

Facebook ‘directed massive lobbying campaign at politicians around the world and called Irish PM a ‘great friend’ in battle against new data privacy laws’

  • Facebook executives met with policy makers in Davos, Switzerland, in 2014
  • Documents reveal they tried to influence Canada, Brazil and all 28 EU states
  • Facebook said they had ‘great relationship’ with Irish prime minster Enda Kenny
  • At time Ireland had presidency of EU and Facebook wanted to influence policy

Facebook tried to influence politicians including George Osborne during a lobbying campaign against new data privacy laws. Documents seen by the Observer and Computer Weekly reveal that the social media giant tried to influence countries including Canada, Brazil and all 28 EU states. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, asked then chancellor of the exchequer Mr Osborne to ‘really help shape the proposals’ about European data legislation at the time by being ‘more vocal,’ reports Computer Weekly. She even invited one of his children, who was 11 at the time, to a Facebook office when Mr Osborne told him they were ‘desperate’ for their own account on the site. The pair met at the World Economic Forum in 2013, in Davos, Switzerland, where Facebook staff met with numerous policy makers. The memo from their meeting reveals that Mr Osborne asked whether Facebook would be interested in investing in Tech City, in East London. Towards the end of the meeting Marne Levine, then Facebook’s vice-president of global public policy, is said to have brought up Sandberg’s feminist book. Mr Osborne then offered to host a reception for the book, Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead, at Downing Street. Mr Osborne told the Observer he did not lobby the EU because of the meeting with Facebook while in Switzerland. The internal memo was seen after documents were seized from Ted Kramer, founder of app Six4Three, who is involved in a court case with Facebook. Also revealed in the documents was Facebook’s ‘great relationship’ with Ireland. Facebook claimed to have encouraged the then Irish prime minster Enda Kenny, who was a ‘friend’ of the company, to help influence the Data Protection Directive. At the time Ireland had the six-month long presidency of the European Union and Sandberg and Kenny met again the following year, again at Davos. Ireland has an important role in regulating tech companies in Europe because its data protection commissioner acts for all the member states, reports the Guardian. Facebook has also made lots of investments in Ireland and has an office in Dublin which has created numerous of jobs. A spokesperson for Facebook told the Guardian: ‘Like the other documents that were cherrypicked and released in violation of a court order last year, these by design tell one side of a story and omit important context.’

Bill Goodwin, Duncan Campbell and Sebastian Klovig Skelton, computerweekly.com, Facebook asked George Osborne to influence EU data protection law

The information is prepared by the team of the COMPACT project.

COMPACT is a Coordination and Support Action funded European Commission under framework Horizon 2020.

The objective of the COMPACT project is to increase awareness (including scientific, political, cultural, legal, economic and technical areas) of the latest technological discoveries among key stakeholders in the context of social media and convergence. The project will offer analyses and road maps of related initiatives. In addition, extensive research on policies and regulatory frameworks in media and content will be developed.

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