Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, has been outspoken in her defense of why she thinks the EU needs to hold Facebook’s feet to the regulatory fire. The EU, for its part, has warned the social networking giant that it needs to be more clear with consumers in terms of how their data is used, but today Vera went even farther.
She blasted the company’s “misleading terms of service” and said if it doesn’t make things right by the end of the year, she’ll call on consumer protection authorities in EU countries to start levying sanctions. That’s according to a Wall Street Journal report in which Vera is also quoted as lamenting during a press conference, “I am becoming rather impatient. We have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years … I want to see results.”
In an interesting footnote to this, it turns out she’s so frustrated with Facebook that she’s also shut down her own Facebook account, saying during the press conference that she’d received an “influx of hatred.” “I don’t want to avoid communication with people, even with critical people,” she reportedly said by way of defending her move — saying, in other words, she’s not trying to isolate herself from critics.
It’s just that her experience as a Facebook user has been that the service is, in her own words, “a channel of dirt.”
She explained her position a little more via Twitter:
A Facebook spokesperson told the WSJ, in response to her criticisms, that the company “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”
“At issue for Ms. Jourova was the clarity of Facebook’s terms of service,” according to the paper. “The company updated them in the spring, but Ms. Jourova said they remain insufficiently explicit about how the company monetizes users’ data. A spokeswoman for the EU’s executive arm said that directing users via hyperlinks to Facebook’s ‘data policy,’ which gives some more detail on ad targeting, isn’t enough for consumers.”
The paper goes on to point out that this issue is “legally separate” from complaints against Facebook from activists under the EU’s privacy law.