LEGAL/POLICY

EU Pressed Over Stricter Messaging Privacy Rules

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Privacy and human rights organisations urged the European Parliament to solidify its stance on stricter privacy laws for messaging apps, as it expressed concerns proposals by the European Council would validate data protection abuses.

In a letter to the Parliament, a group of 30 organisations including Amnesty International and Privacy International warned the Council’s position weakened proposals by the legislative branch to improve protections for users regarding tracking, monitoring and consent.

The organisations said the Council watered down these plans by introducing “ambiguity” on when data tracking is considered necessary, in turn legitimising potential “abuses and breaches of data protection law” and failing to address a deficit in user trust.

In a decision taken in February, the Council outlined certain situations where messaging app providers “may process metadata”, for example location and receipt of communication, “for a purpose other than that for which it was collected, even when this is not based on the user’s consent or certain provisions on legislative measures under European Union or member state law”.

The European Commission planned to impose tighter rules covering the handling of customer message

Facebook Continues Content Crusade

Facebook and Instagram users were given more options to flag content deemed inappropriate on the        platforms, with a right to appeal decisions made by the company’s oversight board.

In a blog, Facebook VP of integrity Guy Rosen said the function will allow users to appeal other people’s content which has not been already removed by the oversight board after an initial review.

So far, only the company had the option to ask the board to reassess displayed content.

Facebook began deploying the functionality globally April 13. It covers posts, photos, videos, comments and shared material. The company expects the rollout to be completed in the coming weeks.

Rosen explained multiple users will be able to report the same piece of content, “to guarantee each reporting user’s voice is heard”.

Once a case is created, the oversight board will “only include details that could easily identify” a reporting user if they have given their consent.

Facebook’s oversight board has the power to order the removal of content from the company’s platforms, and was established as part of broader moves to address criticism about the spread of misinformation.

Board members are fully independent of the social media giant.

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