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Facebook to hand privacy controls to users ahead of EU law

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, addresses the Facebook Gather conference in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Facebook will make it easier for its more than 2 billion users to manage their own data in response to a tough new European Union law that comes into force in May, the social network’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said.

“We’re rolling out a new privacy center globally that will put the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data,” Sandberg said at a Facebook event in Brussels on Tuesday.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the biggest overhaul of personal data privacy rules since the birth of the internet and aims to give Europeans more control over their information and how companies use it.

Companies found to be in breach of the law face a maximum penalty of 4 percent of global annual turnover or 20 million euros ($24.50 million), whichever is greater.

“Our apps have long been focused on giving people transparency and control and this gives us a very good foundation to meet all the requirements of the GDPR and to spur us on to continue investing in products and in educational tools to protect privacy,” Sandberg said.

Industries collecting large amount of customer data – from technology companies to insurers and banks – will be affected.

Facebook’s use of customer data and tracking of people’s online activities has already come under investigation from several EU data protection authorities.

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