Sunday 15 September 2019

Facebook in crackdown demand as web founder urges online revolution

Contract call: Tim Berners-Lee speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon
Contract call: Tim Berners-Lee speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon
Control: Vera Jourova wants action on misuse of personal data
Google's Vice-President for product management, Tamar Yehoshua, delivers a speech at the centre stage of the 2018 edition of the annual Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon

Adrian Weckler in Lisbon

Facebook has endured another day of bashing on the international stage with the European Commissioner for Justice, Vera Jourova, telling the Web Summit that social networks need to be controlled more tightly.

"It is time to address non-transparent political advertising and the misuse of people's personal data," Ms Jourova told journalists at the Lisbon tech conference. "In our online world, the risk of interference and manipulation has never been so high. The Cambridge Analytica case has been a wake-up call that sent shockwaves through our democratic systems."

Ms Jourova also said that there is "strong determination" within the EU to move ahead with an EU digital tax, which Ireland opposes.

The criticism of the social regulation came after Facebook and Google both agreed to sign up to a new 'Contract For the Web', initiative set up by the founder of the worldwide web, Tim Berners-Lee.

The loosely-defined 'contract' asks for new systems of accountability for major tech companies and state bodies when it comes to building and using the web.

"A lot of things have gone wrong with the web," he said. "We need a revolution."

Mr Berners-Lee said that online companies can "do better" than they are at present. Irish tech entrepreneurs were out in force at the conference.

Alan Coleman, the Brite:bill founder who sold the Irish telecoms software firm to AmDocs for a reported €80m in 2016, was present with his new startup, Sweepr.

The firm aims to help people with everyday technical problems they have using artificial intelligence.

Other high-profile Irish technology founders present included Intercom co-founder Des Traynor, who said that his company will soon be rolling out a roadmap for its next big products.

The Web Summit is traditionally used by hundreds of European startups to find financial backers, partners and customers.

Organisers at the conference say that the number of people registered to attend the event is close to 70,000.

Irish Independent

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