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Facebook’s Zuckerberg calls for new-style regulator for EU

Company facing several probes with European data protection agencies

By AFP - Feb 17,2020 - Last updated at Feb 17,2020

European Commission Vice President in charge for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova (left) shakes hands with the founder and CEO of US online social media and social networking service Facebook Mark Zuckerberg (right), in Brussels, on Monday (AFP photo)

BRUSSELS — Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg called for a new type of big tech regulator as he lobbied the EU officials who have become the world's top enforcers on big tech.

The founder of the world's biggest social network, which also owns Instagram and Whatsapp, came to EU headquarters as Brussels prepares to unveil a highly anticipated strategy to regulate artificial intelligence.

Zuckerberg's visit comes on the heels of similar meetings by Google boss Sundar Pichai, who in January called on Brussels to tread carefully in regulating artificial intelligence.

But in a document released to reporters about Mark Zuckerberg's meeting, Facebook emphasised the importance of better controlling hate speech and disinformation on platforms — all without muzzling free speech.

This was the topic he was going to raise with European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova, a top Brussels official who became an outspoken critic of Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018.

Jourova, an EU spokesman said, "intends to raise issues related to the protection of democracy and fundamental rights, free and fair elections, the fight against disinformation, including the transparency of political advertising".

The Facebook paper stressed that the way to limit unwanted speech was to make sure that platforms put systems in place to fight it, not by holding them liable for the speech itself.

"Publisher liability laws that punish the publication of illegal speech are unsuitable for the internet landscape," the paper said.

Online content "may require a new type of regulator", Facebook said.

Facebook is fighting on several fronts in Europe. It currently faces several probes with European data protection agencies and the EU executive is looking more deeply into possible anti-trust problems on data use.

Zuckerberg also met with European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner Thierry Breton who are in charge of designing the EU's stance on AI.

Their proposal, due on Wednesday, was expected to pursue a "risk-based" approach to assessing AI similar to how Europe approaches food safety concerns, such as GMOs and certain chemicals.

Vestager has told reporters she would back away from a ban on facial recognition technology and instead ask companies and authorities to think hard before deploying it.

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