Is the business model of the big data companies compatible with the principles of liberal democracy? On 22 May, Mark Zuckerberg appeared at a hearing organised by the European Parliament to answer questions about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. User data from Facebook – including that of 2.7 million EU citizens – were improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, which used the data to micro-target and mobilise voters in the US and the UK. The Cambridge Analytica controversy risks undermining trust in online platforms.
There is an intricate connection between technological development, philosophical thought, political decisions and democracy. Will what is technologically possible always come about, or can legislators still exercise control and influence developments? Will society be able to keep up with fast-paced technological innovation? And how?
For many years, the European Union and the European Parliament have been active in the field of trust in technology. The EU is the frontrunner in the world with regards to protecting citizens´ rights. At an increasing rate, the European Parliament is dealing with sensitive issues like the collection of personal data, the technological, ethical, legal and socio-economic aspects of artificial intelligence and robotics, data protection, privacy, disinformation, fake news and election interference, e-commerce, cybercrime and the internet of things.
As a legislator, the Parliament adopts rules on the right to be forgotten, the freedom to transfer data (also outside the EU), data portability, consumer protection and so on. On 27 November, the European Parliament and the European Commission together organise a high-level conference in Brussels on EU research and innovation in our daily life. One of the panels is dedicated to a safe and secure society for all. Participation is free and registration is open.
Furthermore, we as European citizens will be able to exercise our rights and vote in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament from 23 to 26 May 2019 (23 May in the Netherlands). There is a lot at stake. The European Parliament invites everyone to register at www.thistimeimvoting.eu. You will then receive information on the European elections. And we will provide you with tools to be active in the campaign, if you so wish.
Danny de Paepe
European Parliament Liaison Office in the Netherlands
More to explore
Invitation to the high-level conference on EU research and innovation in our daily life.
Factsheet on internet users whose personal data is collected online
Factsheet on users of online social networks
Factsheet on victims of cybercrime
European Parliament briefing Adapting to new digital realities