OPEN LETTER Brussels and Munich, May 21, 2018
Dear President of the European Parliament,
Dear Members of the Conference of Presidents,
Dear Members of the European Parliament,
Dear Members of the LIBE Committee,
A few weeks ago, the members of the US Congress let Mark Zuckerberg get away with feigning
ignorance on the most critical questions about the privacy of all Internet users: does Facebook create
“shadow profiles” – i.e. profiles of non-members – and does Facebook collect information about
people outside of the Facebook platform. We are hopeful and confident that our representatives will
be more tenacious.
Since the parliamentary hearing was organized as a closed-door meeting to respect Mr. Zuckerberg’s
privacy, allow us to suggest some key questions to ask him directly:
Mr. Zuckerberg: Cliqz’s researchers have established that Facebook’s tracking scripts are on
more than 1 out of 3 pages of the web, collecting people’s browsing behaviour combined with
unique identifiers. The Cambridge Analytica data leak affected 2.7 million EU citizens whereas
Off-Facebook data collection affects every single internet user in the world, regardless
whether he or she is a Facebook member or not.
Why do you collect this data and do you store this data?
You have announced a few weeks ago that you will offer Facebook members the possibility of
deleting this data (which suggests that you do store this data). When will people see the data
you have collected and stored? How many months of browsing history did you store? Will
non-Facebook members be offered the possibility to see and destroy their data?
Where exactly in your past privacy policies did you tell your users that you were collecting and
storing this data? Did you seek to receive consent for this sort of collection from your users in
preparation for GDPR?
Dear Members of Parliament, please do not allow Mr. Zuckerberg to plead ignorance on these
important question as he did in front of the US Congress. Even if he did not know at the time, he does
know as his announcement a few weeks later made clear. Please insist on clear answers about the
extent of tracking of users and non-users outside of Facebook properties. You can pin him down with
one simple, unambiguous question: Do you store off-Facebook browsing data collected from non-
For our part, we build tools to keep Facebook and others from creating shadow profiles of internet
users. We are a German start-up backed by Burda and Mozilla and we build browser, search and data
protection technologies. Our Cliqz and Ghostery browsers make the hidden surveillance network of
tracking scripts visible for everyone.
Our data scientists would be more than happy to show you, dear Members of the Parliament, some
examples of how dangerous tracking-based data collection is.
Please, do not allow the strong platforms of this world to destroy the privacy of your citizens. As
proud citizens of the EU, we count on you!
The Cliqz Team
Marc Al-Hames Jean-Paul Schmetz
Managing Director, Cliqz GmbH Founder, Cliqz GmbH