Zuckerberg meets EU officials as bloc's new tech rules loom

/ CBS/AP

London — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met top European Union officials on a visit to Brussels on Monday, days before the bloc is expected to release new proposals on regulating artificial intelligence.

The billionaire social network founder is the latest U.S. tech executive to make the trip to the headquarters of the EU, which is becoming an increasingly important player in technology regulation.

Zuckerberg met Margrethe Vestager, the EU's powerful executive vice president in charge of making Europe "fit for the digital age." He also had audiences with Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market, and Vera Jourova, vice president for values and transparency.

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Vestager is set on Wednesday to release the first draft of the EU's proposed regulations on artificial intelligence, including facial recognition, and a digital strategy, which could have major implications for tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple.

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The EU has already pioneered strict data privacy rules and issued multibillion-dollar antitrust fines against the likes of Google.

"Better for everyone"

In an op-ed published in the Financial Times, Zuckerberg said big tech companies such as Facebook need closer government supervision.

"I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook's business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term," he wrote. He said new rules should be clear and balanced and it shouldn't be left up to individual companies to set their own standards.

Also Monday, Facebook released a "white paper" on content regulation outlining challenges and principles for authorities to consider when drawing up new rules on how to deal with harmful material such as child sexual exploitation or terrorist recruitment. The paper lays out four questions that Facebook says must be addressed in regulating online content:

  • How can content regulation best achieve the goal of reducing harmful speech while preserving free expression?
  • How can regulations enhance the accountability of internet platforms?
  • Should regulation require internet companies to meet certain performance targets?
  • Should regulation define which "harmful content" should be prohibited on the internet?

"To be clear, this isn't about passing off responsibility. Facebook is not waiting for regulation; we're continuing to make progress on these issues ourselves," Zuckerberg wrote in the Financial Times. He added,"The internet is a powerful force for social and economic empowerment. Regulation that protects people and supports innovation can ensure it stays that way."

First published on February 17, 2020 / 11:52 AM

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