Facebook warns EU regulator of liability risks when seeking data access about privacy

Social media giant Facebook warned EU regulators earlier this week against forcing big tech companies to open up their vast troves of data to rivals, claiming that such a move would carry significant risks to privacy and liability.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has voiced concerns that tech industry heavyweights might leverage their power to block rivals and that regulators could have to force them to provide key data to competitors to prevent that.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, said that could be a dangerous thing to do.

“There is a fundamental tension between transferring people’s data, particularly when your data isn’t just yours but data that you share with friends, with groups, with other online communities from one surface to a competitor surface,” he said, adding this “clearly carries with it privacy risks.”

Clegg said there was also the question of liability, and who would bear the responsibility if things went wrong. He added:

We will not proceed unless regulators are satisfied, particularly U.S. regulators are satisfied, that we have ticked all the boxes,

Mr Clegg was in Brussels to meet newly elected lawmakers at the European Parliament, as well as European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and his justice colleague Vera Jourova.

On Facebook’s plan for a global cryptocurrency called Libra, which has triggered criticism from regulators and banks worldwide, Clegg said the company would not push ahead with the project unless it got the necessary approvals.

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