MPs summon Zuckerberg to explain ‘catastrophic failure of process’

Written by Sam Trendall on 20 March 2018 in News
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DCMS committee chair bemoans ‘misleading answers’ provided by the tech firm so far

Credit: Andrej Sokolow/DPA/PA Images

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to appear before the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Damian Collins, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, today wrote to the Silicon Valley boss to request that he provides oral evidence. The missive comes as the spotlight on the social network intensifies, in light of allegations that UK consulting outfit Cambridge Analytica used data from 50 million Facebook profiles that had been illicitly obtained.

“The committee has repeatedly asked Facebook about how companies acquire and hold on to user data from the site, and in particular about whether data had been taken without their consent,” Collins wrote. “Your officials’ answers have consistently understated this risk, and have been misleading to the committee.”


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The MP for Folkestone and Hythe went on to demand that Facebook put forward a member of the senior management team to answer the committee’s questions. The CEO was counselled that, perhaps, he ought to take this responsibility himself.

“It is now time to hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process,” he said. “There is a strong public interest test regarding user protection. Accordingly, we are sure you will understand the need for a representative from right at the top of the organisation to address concerns.”

Collins added: “Given your commitment at the start of the New Year to ‘fixing’ Facebook, I hope that this representative will be you.”

Zuckerberg is expected to respond to the committee by 26 March.

Over the weekend the Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed that it is investigating whether any illegal activity had taken place in the acquisition and use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, its parent company SCL, and academic Dr Aleksandr Kogan. As of 6pm yesterday, the ICO was reportedly seeking a warrant, after Cambridge Analytica failed to provide access to its servers.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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