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Dutch Government Considers Ending Facebook Use Due to Privacy Issues

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Dutch Government Considers Ending Facebook Use Due to Privacy Issues

On Friday, the Dutch government indicated potential discontinuation of Facebook use following a caution from the Netherlands’ privacy watchdog regarding privacy risks associated with the Meta-owned platform. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) advised the Dutch Interior Ministry against using Facebook pages for citizen communication unless there’s clarity on how Facebook handles the personal data of visitors to government pages.

The Interior Ministry had earlier sought guidance from the DPA on the compliant use of Facebook pages by the government. Alexandra van Huffelen, the Dutch Minister for Digitalization, stated in a release that the government seeks prompt clarification from Meta, ideally before the summer break, regarding their approach to addressing the government’s concerns. She further added that failing to receive this clarification would lead them to cease their activities on Facebook pages in accordance with the DPA’s advice.

Aleid Wolfsen, the chairman of the Dutch DPA, emphasized in a statement that visitors to a government page expect their personal and sensitive data to be securely managed. “This is especially crucial when the information pertains to children and young individuals, who are particularly vulnerable online and require enhanced protection,” Wolfsen added, as translated to English using Google Translate.

A spokesperson from Meta informed CNBC: “We strongly disagree with the basis of this advice, which is factually incorrect and reflects a fundamental misinterpretation of how our products operate.” “We consistently evaluate all Meta products to ensure compliance with local laws where our services are available and remain committed to collaborating with the government to enable their use of social media for communication,” the spokesperson from Meta further commented.

Matthew Holman, a partner specializing in tech, privacy, and AI at law firm Cripps, highlighted in an email to CNBC that the DPA’s advice underscores the “increasing skepticism between European regulators and Meta.” Holman suggested that the Dutch regulator’s apprehension probably stems from the potential sharing of user data with government entities on Meta’s platform, which could still be susceptible to security vulnerabilities, surveillance, or access by US federal agencies.

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