Facebook caught lobbying against data privacy laws

Originally Published: April 1, 2019 Last Updated: April 1, 2019

An explosive new leak of Facebook's internal documents in March 2019 revealed that Facebook had spent years lobbying extensively against privacy protection laws around the world. The documents also revealed a secretive global lobbying operation by Facebook which targeted hundreds of legislators and regulators in an attempt to gain influence across the world including the UK, US, Canada, India, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and all 28 member states of the EU.

  • The documents show that Facebook lobbied with politicians across Europe as an attempt to avoid the implementation of restrictive privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • The former Irish Prime Minister Edna Kenny, was said to have made extraordinary claims that his country could exercise significant influence as president of the EU in Facebook's interest, despite the office being a neutral position. Dozens of other politicians were also named, including Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
  • The social network also used its chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg's feminist memoir 'Lean In' to bond with female commissioners it viewed as hostile.
  • Facebook allegedly also threatened to withhold investments from countries which refused to pass Facebook-friendly laws.
  • A Facebook spokesperson said that the documents were under seal in a Californian court and couldn't respond to them in any detail: “Like the other documents that were cherrypicked and released in violation of a court order last year, these by design tell one side of a story and omit important context.”