The Information Commissioner has warned Brits away from using Facebook as they still have a “disturbing disregard” for user privacy.
Asked if she would use the social media giant herself, data tsar Elizabeth Denham said they still had “a long way to go” to “change practices so that people have trust.”
And she called for politicians to move quickly to regulate the tech giant, telling MPs: “I think we have seen some evidence of Facebook being more transparent, but I think they need to do more, and I think they should be subject to greater oversight.”
Her warning followed Facebook’s being exposed for allowing dodgy data firms access to users personal details.
Earlier this year her office fined Facebook £500,000 – the maximum amount they could under their powers – for giving elections firm Cambridge Analytica access to 87 million profiles.
Ms. Denham urged MPs to tighten laws around how political parties use Facebook and other online campaigning tools and boost her powers further.
She told the parliamentary inquiry into disinformation and fake news: “People have to be able to trust the systems so it’s very important that we get to the bottom of it and that Parliament takes up some of the important recommendations that we’ve made at policy level that includes a statutory code of practice for political campaigning.”
The watchdog boss added: “If you look across the whole system, that is really what this report is about and we have to improve these practices for the future.”
And she said democracy was under threat if politicians did not counter the “very disturbing disregard that many of these organizations across the entire ecosystem have for the personal privacy of UK citizens and voters.”
Asked to which organizations she is referring, Ms. Denham replied: “Facebook, data brokers, political campaigns, data companies.
“As you know we’re looking at political parties and their use of data so we really need to tighten up controls across the entire ecosystem because it matters to our democratic processes.”
And she warned elections are currently undermined, and “the rules need to be sharpened, they need to be clear, they need to be fair across all organizations involved in political campaigning.”
The ICO chief was speaking to the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee after an “unprecedented” probe into how data was used in UK elections and the 2016 referendum.
“It’s unprecedented for any data protection authority worldwide in terms of the type of information we’re examining, the numbers of organizations, the numbers of individuals, the cost of the investigation and the expertise that’s required.
“But what’s at stake are the fundamentals of our democratic processes.”
Tory Committee boss Damian Collins responded: “We hear loudly the opinion of the Information Commissioner that the time for self-regulation is over and a time of accountability is here where parliament sets the objectives and outcomes for social media companies to follow, rather than the regulator taking on individual complaints.”
The explosive intervention came as Home Secretary Sajid Javid flew to Silicon Valley to warn the big online firms that they must do more to clamp down on international child sexual exploitation.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.
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