Rometty pointed to the “irresponsible handling of personal data by a few dominant consumer-facing platform companies,” which has led to “trust crisis” between users and tech companies, according to an advanced copy of her remarks a Brussels event with top European Union (EU) officials obtained by Bloomberg. She called on the EU to change laws that have given these web platforms immunity from the content on their sites.
“Dominant online platforms have more power to shape public opinion than newspapers or the television ever had, yet they face very little regulation or liability,” Rometty said. “On liability, new thinking is needed.”
Facebook in particular has been under intense scrutiny since it was revealed that up to 87 million of its users may have had their data shared with controversial research firm Cambridge Analytica. As a result, the scandal is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The company was also hit last month with a $644,600 fine in the U.K. after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that the social media network operator was engaged in “serious breaches of data protection.”
Rometty isn’t the first executive to come down on the social media giant. In May, Apple CEO Tim Cook used a commencement speech at Duke University to make a few jabs at Facebook and its recent data scandals.
“We reject the notion that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy, so we choose a different path: collecting as little of your data as possible, and being thoughtful and respectful when it’s in our care. Because we know it belongs to you,” Cook said at the time.
Facebook, as well as Google, have made moves to ease users’ fears. For example, earlier this month, both companies signed up for new internet standards, which will require internet companies to respect data privacy and “support the best in humanity.”