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EU leaders urge privacy protection amid Facebook row

EU President Donald Tusk

Brussels, Belgium | AFP | EU leaders will Thursday press tech giants to protect personal data in the wake of the scandal over information harvested from Facebook, draft summit conclusions said.

The Brussels summit is tackling the row over the misuse of Facebook data by British firm Cambridge Analytica, which played a role in US President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

“Social networks and digital platforms need to guarantee transparent practices and full protection of citizens’ privacy and personal data,” said the draft statement obtained by AFP.

The leaders will further discuss the issue at a summit in the Bulgarian capital Sofia in May, it added.

EU President Donald Tusk announced on Wednesday that it would be added to the summit agenda at the last minute.

Tusk said leaders would tackle issues “undermining trust in our democracies through fake news or election meddling”.

He said this was “particularly relevant in view of the recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica.”

The EU leaders are taking up the issue following calls for an investigation by both the European Commission and the European Parliament, which has invited Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to speak to the assembly.

During a visit to the United States on Wednesday, EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova warned that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation would make it “very, very expensive” for violators once the legislation enters force on May 25.

Jourova added she is waiting “impatiently” for answers on the data breach after she failed to meet with a Facebook official specifically to discuss the problem.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg vowed Wednesday to “step up” to fix problems at the social media giant.

The EU unveiled on Wednesday proposals for a digital tax that targets US tech giants including Facebook.

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