People who use Facebook and other social media should be awarded better protection by the European Union, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has warned.
The Derry politician has now welcomed a commitment from the EU Commission to intensify talks with the US in view of agreeing a framework for personal data transfers, via social networks, to the US.
Speaking from Strasbourg, Ms Anderson said: “Whilst social media has become a routine part of 1.73 billion people’s daily lives and it provides an invaluable service in terms of connecting and informing people, it is important that users are protected from any unwanted sharing of personal data.
“In June 2015 the Belgian Privacy Commission brought a case against Facebook on the grounds that non-EU-members who connected to websites that have links to the social network through its ‘like’ button had data collected on their online activities through the use of a ‘cookie’.
“On 9 November 2015 a Belgian court ordered Facebook to stop tracking non-members in the country without their consent.
“The court stated that Facebook did not have individuals’ consent to gather information. Furthermore, it stated that Europe’s national privacy authorities had the right to intervene if they believed their citizens’ data to be at risk when companies move information outside national borders.”
The Sinn Féin MEP continued: “Following this I wrote to the European Commission asking them to detail what actions they are planning to take vis-à-vis Facebook to ensure that EU citizens’ privacy is adequately safeguarded, and whether they will take steps to prohibit the use in the EU of ‘datr cookies’ or ‘cookies’ of equivalent effect?
“I welcome their response stating that they have issued a Communication on the Transfer of Personal Data from the EU to the US. The Communication provides an overview of lawful ways for data transfers to third countries.
“The Commission has also intensified talks with the US in view of agreeing a framework for data transfers to the US. I’m relieved that moves have been made to rectify these issues, but the Commission needs to deliver on this and should be on hand to provide protection to its citizens.”