EU urged to monitor tech giants to avoid another Cambridge Analytica

24 Oct 2018

Image: © Ingo Bartussek/

Spectre of the horror that was Cambridge Analytica hasn’t gone away.

Irish MEP Seán Kelly has called on the European Parliament (EP) to invoke independent monitoring of internet giants to avoid another Cambridge Analytica affair.

“The Cambridge Analytica scandal should be a stark reminder of how important it is to have a robust data protection system in place,” said Kelly, leader of the Fine Gael party in the EP, in Strasbourg this week.

‘Citizens should not have to be concerned about whether their personal data will remain personal’

The Cambridge Analytica data scandal rocked governments both sides of the Atlantic earlier this year after it emerged that the data of about 87m Facebook users was harnessed and potentially weaponised to influence political outcomes, including US president Donald Trump’s election as well as the pivotal UK Leave vote in 2016.

Recent revelations of at least 50m users, including 5m in the EU, being compromised by a breach have left Facebook facing a potential €1.6bn fine as Ireland’s Data Protection Commission opened a formal investigation.

Spectre of manipulation

Kelly said that with elections looming across Europe, even the ghost of a chance that elections could be tampered with or influenced must be exorcised.

“Misuse of personal data is absolutely unacceptable. Facebook and other social media platforms need to assess how to operate effectively while providing sufficient protection to citizens’ data.”

The Irish MEP previously led negotiations on the General Data Protection Regulation for the EP’s industry, research and energy committee.

“All the rules and laws in the world are no good unless they are applied. Citizens should not have to be concerned about whether their personal data will remain personal. This is particularly true in the context of elections, where this data could be used to manipulate the electorate.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years