Facebook policy wonk growls at Europe's mass of data laws

Don't speak to the face cos the book is closed, m'kay?

Facebook's Brussels lobbyist Richard Allan took to the pages of the Pink 'Un on Wednesday morning to have a good old moan about "multiple" EU nations digging around the free content ad network's data-slurping biz practices.

He complained that the actions of national privacy watchdogs within the 28-member-state bloc posed a threat to the European Union's economy.

In a nothing-to-see-here-move-along rebuttal, Allan claimed that regulators were wasting their time investigating Facebook's data-handling behaviour because, apparently, the Mark Zuckerberg-run firm had already undergone an intimate probe from Ireland's information watchdog.

Allan argued that Facebook had fixed its data protection issues in the EU already, after the company worked with the Irish authorities to address "concerns" about its services.

However, a number of probes are underway in countries including Belgium and the Netherlands. According to Allan, national authorities, whose officials are prying into Facebook's business, are going against the common market spirit of the EU.

He said:

If it is allowed to stand, complying with EU law will no longer be enough; businesses will instead have to comply with 28 independently shifting national variants. They would have to predict the enforcement agenda in each country.

Allan was elected as the Liberal Democrats' MP for Sheffield Hallam in 1997 and was re-elected in 2001. He gave up his seat in 2005 and became a peer in the House of Lords in 2010 – a year after he joined Facebook.

In his FT (paywall) rant, Allan griped that "Facebook's recent experience in Europe" told "a disturbing tale."

It could end up a costly headache, not only for multi-billion dollar outfit Facebook, but also for internet start-ups in the EU, he warned.

European regulators see it differently, however: a pan-EU probe is already under way, with Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany all working together as part of a so-called Article 29 taskforce to tackle Facebook's hungry data gobbles. ®

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