Facebook warns EU regulators seeking data access about privacy, liability risks

FILE PHOTO: Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Facebook warned European Union regulators on Monday against forcing tech giants to open their vast troves of data to rivals, saying such a move would carry privacy and liability risks.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has voiced concerns that tech industry heavyweights might leverage their power to block rivals and that regulators could have to force them to provide key data to competitors to prevent that.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, said that could be a dangerous thing to do.

“There is a fundamental tension between transferring people’s data, particularly when your data isn’t just yours but data that you share with friends, with groups, with other online communities from one surface to a competitor surface,” he said, adding this “clearly carries with it privacy risks.”

Clegg said there was also the question of liability, and who would bear the responsibility if things went wrong.

He was in Brussels to meet newly elected lawmakers at the European Parliament, as well as European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and his justice colleague Vera Jourova.

On Facebook’s plan for a global cryptocurrency called Libra, which has triggered criticism from regulators and banks worldwide, Clegg said the company would not push ahead with the project unless it got the necessary approvals.

“We will not proceed unless regulators are satisfied, particularly U.S. regulators are satisfied, that we have ticked all the boxes,” he said.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter