German minister calls Facebook 'network of opacity'

Facebook population drops
An illustration picture shows the log-on screen for the Website Facebook on an Ipad, in Bordeaux, Southwestern France on January 30, 2013 REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley has slammed social media giant Facebook in the ongoing Cambridge Analytical data scandal.

Speaking to the press in Berlin on Thursday, she labelled Facebook as a "network of opacity" and demanded consequences for the firm in response to its mishandling of private user data, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The time has come for a serious reaction by European states," Barley said.

She consequently called for "clear and legally-binding regulatory requirements on the operators of social networks on the European level" and demanded that Facebook should reveal its internal algorithms to public authorities.

Facebook has recently admitted that the data of up to 87 million users was passed on illegally to the election strategy company Cambridge Analytica. Previously, the social network had put the figure lower at around 50 million affected users.

According to Facebook, up to 310,000 Germans are likely to have been affected by the scandal. Barley criticised on Thursday that the incident highlighted how "ethical principles fell victim to commercial interests" at the company founded by chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg.

The Justice Minister argued that the only way for Facebook to regain lost trust was to allow independent experts and data protection agencies to subject the company's practices to a thorough investigation.

"The state must be able to fulfil its protective and ordering roles on the internet as well," Barley told the press.

She went on to demand that a review of Facebook's business model could not just be limited to its dealings with Cambridge Analytica but would have to encompass all of its commercial activities.

"We must clarify whether other application operators have engaged in large-scale abuse of user- and contact data," she added.