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Facebook whistleblower boost for EU regulation: commissioner

By AFP - Oct 07,2021 - Last updated at Oct 07,2021

Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies before a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill, October 5, 2021, in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

BRUSSELS - European commissioner Thierry Breton said on Wednesday that revelations by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen reinforced the EU's plan to regulate digital platforms.

 

After speaking to the US data scientist, who testified to US lawmakers on Tuesday, EU internal market boss Breton told reporters that it was "really urgent to legislate and not to weaken" Brussels' plans.

Last December, Breton proposed two draft laws known as DSA and DMA, which aim at stopping abuses by digital giants.

The bills are under discussion between the European Parliament and the Council of the bloc's 27 member states.

His conversation with Haugen had pushed him "not to weaken the proposals, despite lobbying to reduce obligations" imposed on platforms, Breton said.

He said he heard out her allegations against Facebook before going over the plans for European regulation with her.

"I got her perspective, especially on questions of transparency, data and algorithms," he said.

Haugen told Congress on Tuesday that it should strengthen regulation of Facebook, which she accuses of aiming to constantly ramp up teens' use of its services, which also include WhatsApp and Instagram.

She also said that Facebook removed filters set up to sift out disinformation after the US election campaign, aiming to boost visits to its platforms.

Some users went on to plan the demonstration preceding the January 6 invasion of Washington's Capitol building via Facebook properties.

If her claims prove true, such things "cannot be allowed to happen in Europe," Breton said, insisting that the Commission's plans would do the trick.

He added that Brussels was also weighing regulations on targeted advertising in response to calls from lawmakers.

While outside the remit of DSA and DMA, "it's a topic we're thinking about" for an upcoming bill, Breton said.

Haugen plans to travel to Brussels in early November where she could be heard by the European Parliament, he added.

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