UK to order Facebook, Google to redo data policies

LONDON • The UK government will direct Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Twitter Inc and other tech companies to simplify their data management policies for consumers after disclosures about recent breaches, the Sunday Times reported.

Matt Hancock, the UK digital, culture and media secretary, told the newspaper that the digital power- houses were failing to provide users with clear and concise terms and conditions for how personal data is used. His goal is to get the information onto one page.

Facebook’s service agreement has more than 3,700 words and Twitter has 11,000 words, the newspaper said. The government has summoned executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter to a meeting in April to discuss data management practices.

“People are bewildered by pages of unwieldy terms and conditions,” Hancock told the newspaper. “I want these boiled right down so people can see in one glance what they’re signing up to. I want the big platforms to answer questions and demonstrate they are willing to change.”

Revelations that London-based Cambridge Analytica used personal data from more than 50 million Facebook accounts in its work for the campaign of US President Donald Trump has turned up the heat on the social media behemoth.

Hancock’s planned meeting coincides with the UK Parliament’s consideration of a data protection law that would enable the government to impose heavy fines on tech companies for mishandling their customers’ data. Members of the US Congress are calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on the company’s practices.

Facebook’s shares have skidded about 14% since the disclosures a week ago.

Yesterday, Zuckerberg vowed to protect consumers’ personal information in full-page advertisements that the Menlo Park, California-based company ran in many British newspapers.

“I promise to do better for you,” Zuckerberg pledged in the ad carried on the back pages of the newspapers. — Bloomberg