Facebook's Zuckerberg arranges one-day holiday to discuss privacy in Poland

The Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's day-long vacation in Warsaw sees him stop by the Ministry for Administrative Affairs and Digitisation for a chat about privacy.

Michal Boni and Mark Zuckerberg at yesterday's meeting in Warsaw.
Michal Boni and Mark Zuckerberg at yesterday's meeting in Warsaw. Image: Ministry for administrative affairs and digitisation

Mark Zuckerberg suddenly appeared in Warsaw on Wednesday on what the Facebook founder and CEO said was a spontaneous one-day holiday. But the meaning of the word "spontaneous" would need to be stretched to explain his late afternoon meeting with the Polish minister for administrative affairs and digitisation, Michal Boni.

Officially, Zuckerberg and Boni talked about the significance of the IT industry in Poland and the position of Polish programmers in the world market. According to the social media mogul, Poland is the second-most important recruiting grounds for programmers, "ahead of China although still behind India". Boni added that the growing Polish IT market was now worth approximately €7bn annually — 2.2 percent of the country's GDP.

The two are also likely to have discussed one subject likely to be on both their minds for different reasons: the EC's proposed reforms of Europe's privacy rules.

The issue of privacy did crop up in conversation between the minister and Facebook founder. Boni said that privacy remained important for Poles, and working out how to create conditions that allowed businesses to successfully combine innovation with privacy would remain an issue in the years ahead.

And, while Zuckerberg told journalists that data protection was a key issue and people should always know how their data was being used, the company has found itself on the wrong end of Europe's privacy watchdogs on several occasions.

As a result, Wednesday's meeting stirred some criticism among local industry watchers, and not just for its small-scale and hasty nature.

On the same day as Zuckerberg's visit, experts attended a conference on web security and the limits of advertising in the online age in the same city. "We are getting two separate worlds. Experts can talk all they want, while businessmen and politicians meet elsewhere," Polish technology blog Dziennik Internautow lamented.