Ex-MEP Clegg is sent stern letter accusing Facebook of ignoring how EU law works
'Facebook’s head of global affairs, Sir Nick Clegg, has been told by the European Union to rethink some of the company’s rules aimed at protecting elections from foreign interference.
Věra Jourová, the European commissioner for justice, told the Guardian that the EU had a clear message for Facebook over its approach to ensuring greater transparency about who funds political adverts.
While Facebook has argued it has come up with the right solution, Jourová said the discussion was not finished.
In a potential embarrassment for the former deputy prime minister, the EU has sent Clegg a stern letter accusing Facebook of ignoring how EU law works.
Signed by the EU’s most senior civil servants, the letter includes a short lesson on EU treaty law, which could prove awkward reading for Clegg, a former EU official and MEP. He became Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs and communications last October.
The dispute has arisen over Facebook’s attempts to meet EU demands to clamp down on foreign meddling in elections. The company has introduced rules requiring political advertisers to register in the country that is the target for the campaign.
The EU fears this would prevent European institutions and pan-European political groups from using Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram for continent-wide campaigns, including in the European elections in May.
In the letter, seen by the Guardian, the EU says Facebook’s efforts are “both highly welcome and necessary to protect the integrity of the European elections” but “raise a fundamental concern”.
The letter argues that failing to recognise the role of pan-European political parties and institutions “would encroach upon fundamental EU rights and freedoms, such as free movement and political participation. ln their current form, Facebook’s envisaged rules would therefore hinder the exercise of EU electoral rights.”
It complains that EU institutions and Europe-wide parties would be treated in the same way “as foreign entities attempting to interfere in the EU elections”.'
Read more: EU tells Facebook's Nick Clegg to rethink ad funding rules