NEWS
29/01/2018 13:24 SAST | Updated 29/01/2018 13:25 SAST

Facebook Makes Privacy Push Ahead Of Strict E.U. Law

Monday’s announcement is a sign of efforts to get ready before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25.

Toby Melville / Reuters

Facebook said on Monday it was publishing its privacy principles for the first time – and rolling out educational videos to help users control who has access to their information – as it prepares for the start of a tough new European Union (E.U.) data-protection law.

The videos will show users how to manage the data that Facebook uses to show them ads, how to delete old posts, and what happens to the data when they delete their account, said Erin Egan, chief privacy officer at Facebook, in a blog post.

Facebook, which has more than two-billion users worldwide, has never before published its privacy principles, which are its rules on how the company handles users' information.

Monday's announcement is a sign of the company's efforts to get ready for the E.U.'s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on May 25 and is the biggest overhaul of personal-data privacy rules since the birth of the internet.

"We recognise that people use Facebook to connect, but not everyone wants to share everything with everyone – including with us. It's important that you have choices when it comes to how your data is used."

Under GDPR, companies will be required to report data breaches within 72 hours, as well as to allow customers to export their data and delete it.

Facebook's privacy principles, which are separate from the user terms and conditions that are agreed when someone opens an account, range from giving users control of their privacy, to building privacy features into Facebook products from the outset, to users owning the information they share.

"We recognise that people use Facebook to connect, but not everyone wants to share everything with everyone – including with us. It's important that you have choices when it comes to how your data is used," Egan said in her post.

The company's privacy principles also include helping users understand how their data is used, keeping that information secure, constantly improving new controls, and being accountable to regulators.

"We put products through rigorous data-security testing. We also meet with regulators, legislators and privacy experts around the world to get input on our data practices and policies," the blog post said.

The company's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, announced last week that Facebook would be creating a new privacy centre that would put the social network's key privacy settings in one place.

The GDPR drastically increases the level of fines for companies found to be in breach of data-protection law, potentially rising as high as four percent of global annual turnover or 20-million euros, whichever is higher.

Facebook has faced probes from E.U. regulators over its use of user data and tracking of online activities.

As of Monday, users will be reminded by their news feeds to take a "privacy checkup," Egan wrote in her blog, to ensure they are comfortable about what data they are sharing, and with whom.