During a debate in the European Parliament on the recent scandal that Cambridge Analytica misused over 87 million Facebook users’ data, S&D Group MEPs called on national governments to unblock legislation to protect citizens privacy online.

S&D Group vice-president responsible for digital affairs, Josef Weidenholzer, said:

“Every day we are learning more about the extent of this scandal. Following a hearing in the UK Parliament, it now seems likely that far more than 87 million Facebook users have had their data compromised by Cambridge Analytica. It is essential that Mark Zuckerberg come to the European Parliament’s responsible committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs and explain exactly what has taken place, what Facebook knew, and how many EU citizens have been affected. We then need to ensure that laws are in place to prevent this from ever happening again. We are calling for a detailed hearing in the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, so that we can understand the full effects of this scandal. This is much more than a case of a company misusing peoples’ data for commercial gain - it raises profound questions about how our democracies can be manipulated in the age of social media. We need a full investigation on how these types of practices have been used in recent election campaigns, both in Europe and the US.”

S&D Group spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Birgit Sippel, said:

“We have been fighting for years to ensure that citizens’ personal data and privacy is protected online. For too long, the attitude in most governments was that this was a secondary issue. However, this scandal finally seems to have woken everyone up to how important protecting citizens online is. Being outraged by this scandal is not enough; we need action from member states to ensure it cannot happen again. Firstly, we need proper implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will apply as of May 26.  Our Group fought hard against the EPP Group and other conservative forces in the Parliament to ensure that we had strong new laws to protect citizens’ personal data. However, strong laws only mean something if they are properly implemented - member states must give their data protection authorities the resources necessary to actually enforce these new rules effectively.

“But this is not enough: National governments also need to agree their position on the e-privacy regulation, to ensure that citizens’ private conversations online are kept confidential. The current e-privacy rules do not even cover Facebook! The Parliament adopted strong proposals that would guarantee citizens’ privacy online. However, the Council continues to drag its feet on the issue. This is not acceptable; by refusing to act, national governments are already preparing the way for the next big scandal.”   

MEPs involved




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