Updated: Apr 13
The European Union has warned the negative effects of data abuse on technology. Margarethe Vestager (Danish politician serving as the European Commissioner for Competition since 2014) told BBC’s Today show that gigantic tech companies are not using data properly and are not respecting the rights of the citizens. Furthermore, she said that the new rules to govern and regulate what could be done with data has given protection to the citizens. She, however, believes that there is a need for a more intensive action to completely address this issue.
In her interview with Martha Lane Fox, Vestager said that her relationship with tech for the past 12 months has become “darker and more muddy” because all these wonderful benefits brought by technology can potentially be harmful with improper data use, improper supervision and disrespect to the citizens and their individual rights. She believes that citizens are now becoming more aware and how we need to act on the problem together.
2018 brought in a lot of scandals mainly due to the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation by the European Union.
-Including the fiasco last year from Facebook which resulting in them apologizing to more than 87 million of its users for the data breach where many of which were taken by Cambridge Analytica.
-Facebook (again), with other fellow tech giant companies Twitter and Youtube facing allegations on Russia using their platforms in manipulating the voters in the West.
-Google being fined with €4.3bn by the European Union for using Android to defend its dominance in search illegally.
The action of these tech companies could manipulate and change the perspectives of the people and society.
GDPR came into effect on May 2018 giving people all across Europe new privacy rights and control over their data. There is however more work to be done according to Vestager.
They are now currently working on policies to really get these tech companies to be more transparent when it comes to using the data from its users including uploads and views.
She is however optimistic about the future and where data usage is heading. She hopes that with their recent efforts, we will be able to attain a way to find transparency in data access in the next 10 years.
She also claimed that she should have a more positive outlook on the situation because pessimism won’t get them anywhere especially when there is a lot that still needs to be done.
Vestager believes that failure to act upon the problem could possibly lead to tech companies using our personal data which could be dangerous.
The interviewer asked Vestager whether she meant having the intention to break up monopolies or tackle market dominance which subdued competition, she answered that it was an inappropriate solution.
She, however, intends to learn how large companies gain access to data and find a way to limit their power.
Commissioner Vestager responded that while dismantling companies had served Brussels well in the past, the speed at which changes occurred in the tech sector made it a less appropriate response.
When asked about Brexit, she mentioned that the competing authorities have become more resilient through working hand in hand. She said the UK has “clever skilled people with a very strong dedication” to ensure that the market will work for the greater good of its consumers.