The EU’s Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager has accused tech giants for misusing technology, and abusing users’ rights to privacy.
Speaking at an interview with the BBC, Margrethe Vestager expressed displeasure at the tech giants’ manipulation of users’ data. According to her, now is the time for a more concerted action, and even though the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation which came into force in May 2018, allowed users to have more control over their data, there was a need for more pressure on the tech giants.
Privacy laws have been the most pressing over the years and this year has seen a series of scandals. Early this year, Facebook faced scrutiny for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the data of about 87 million users without permission. After this scandal came the saga with the trio- Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The social networks were accused of influencing the Russian elections. These didn’t end without the EU throwing Google a huge fine of £4.3bn for influencing its rank on search engine. There’s also the most recent saga with Facebook’s data sharing policies exposed.
She said during the interview:
“Over these 12 months, our relationship with tech has both been darker and more muddy because it becomes increasingly, clear that all the bright and shiny positive potentials of tech are at the risk of being darkened by forced misuse of data, manipulation, supervision, no respect of the citizen, no respect of individual rights…There is an increasing awareness of the fact that we need to do something and to do that together.”
She mentioned further during the interview, that the actions of the tech firms have a high influence on people behaviour, especially with an extreme subject like politics, and this was what happen with the Russian and American elections.
To remedy to manipulation which already exists as a norm, she said that the civil service has taken it upon itself to stiffen the regulations, to compel tech firms to be more “transparent” with whatever they did with the data the harvest from users via downloads, clicks, shares, views, subscriptions and uploads.
With this, she expressed optimism and said there’s hope for transparency in the near future. However, if things didn’t happen as expected, the civil service would be forced to “break up monopolies or tackle markets where dominance stifled competition.”
She noted that the European competition authorities have become stronger working together, adding that they’d implement their expertise to ensure that they served the consumers right.