Mark Zuckerberg says he wants Facebook to pivot to privacy. But Facebook is also quietly lobbying against laws giving users more control of their data.

GettyMark Zuckerberg announced a new, more privacy focussed direction for Facebook.
  • Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is going to pivot to privacy in a lengthy blog post last week.
  • But The Sunday Telegraph obtained documents showing one of Zuckerberg’s closest advisers, global affairs boss Nick Clegg, lobbying against new EU privacy laws.
  • Meeting minutes show Clegg arguing against regulation which would force tech companies to get consent from users before accessing and using data from their private messages.
  • Clegg said the proposed law would endanger Facebook’s business model.

Mark Zuckerberg set out his big vision last week for a Facebook for focuses on privacy.

“I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever,” Zuckerberg wrote of Facebook’s future.

He added later in the blog that he’s aware some users worry “that our services could access their messages and use them for advertising or in other ways they don’t expect.”

But documents obtained by British newspaper the Sunday Telegraph appear to contradict Zuckerberg’s public messaging around Facebook’s new embrace of data protection.

They show Facebook’s global affairs boss Nick Clegg has been lobbying EU politicians to block laws which would give users more explicit control over what data the company can glean from their private messaging.


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Minutes from a January 28 meeting with vice president of the European Commission Andrus Ansip show that Clegg voiced concerns that the proposed regulation would damage Facebook’s business model.

“Nick Clegg stated as main Facebook’s concern the fact that the said rules are considered to call into question the Facebook business model, which should not be ‘outlawed’ (e.g. Facebook would like to measure the effectiveness of its ads, which requires data processing),” the minutes said.

According to the minutes, Ansip said to Clegg that Facebook would still be able to “monetise data” once it had obtained consent from the users.

Nick CleggGettyFacebook head of comms and former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom Nick Clegg.

The move to encryption laid out by Zuckerberg last week will prevent Facebook from seeing the content of messages, but the firm will still be able to glean information about who you communicate with and the frequency of your conversations. This would be threatened by the new EU rules.

Facebook announced the hire of Nick Clegg, a former Member of the European Parliament and deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom, in October last year. His experience of European politics and regulation was a key reason why the company hired him.

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