Zuckerberg Refuses To Attend UK Data Privacy Hearing Again
It appears that the co-founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want to sit in the hot chair anymore. At least not in the UK. Everyone knows about his recent appearance before Congress, and while he definitely dodged a few questions while he was there, he managed to shed some light on the Cambridge Analytica situation. Following his testimony, Facebook has suffered several changes regarding user data collection and privacy. However, the UK wants to ask Zuckerberg a few questions as well. Therefore, they asked the CEO to appear before the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports Committee.
Back in March, the CEO decided to send executive Mike Schroepfer to testify on his behalf. The thing is, his answers weren’t exactly satisfactory. Therefore, the Committee asked Mark once again to travel to the UK and answer the questions himself. This time around, they also mentioned a “formal summons,” which would be enforced if he decides to ignore them again. This summons would basically force the CEO to appear in front of the Committee next time he enters the UK. Committee Chair Damian Collins MP issued an official statement on the matter:
If Mark Zuckerberg truly recognizes the ‘seriousness’ of these issues as he says he does, we would expect that he would want to appear in front of the Committee and answer questions that are of concern not only to Parliament but Facebook’s tens of millions of users in this country.
Collins even asked Zuckerberg to testify by video, which means that he doesn’t really need to travel to the UK in order to meet the Committee’s demands.
Zuckerberg had previously shunned the request to appear in front of a parliamentary select committee and instead opted to send chief technology officer Mark Schroepfer instead.
But Schroepfer clearly didn’t impress the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee, which noted that it wasn’t happy with the CTO’s responses to its questions and sent out another request to get Zuck in to give some answers.
Facebook said it was “disappointed after providing a very significant amount of information to the Committee at the last hearing the Committee declared our response insufficient”.
The letter did answer several questions British lawmakers had raised. For example, it provided information that AggregateIQ, the Canadian data analytics firm, spent about US$2mil (RM7.92mil) on Facebook ads for pro-Brexit campaign groups, including Vote Leave (US$1.6mil/RM6.34mil) and BeLeave (US$329,000/RM1.30mil). The letter also stated fake accounts associated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency spent about US$100,000 (RM396,400) on Facebook and Instagram ads between June 2015 and August 2017.
Collins was seeking answers to queries such as how many UK Facebook and Instagram account holders were contacted by non-UK entities during the EU referendum, whether Facebook passed user information to Cambridge Analytica or to researcher Aleksandr Kogan, and who at Facebook was responsible for the decision not to tell users their data may have been compromised back in 2015.
The social network didn’t directly answer the first point, but did confirm that it “did not pass user information gathered by Dr Kogan’s app to Cambridge Analytica”. It didn’t name any single individual as being responsible for not telling users about the risks in 2015, but said “an outside law firm” was hired to “investigate and take action against” Kogan.
In addition to Schroepfer, Kogan has given evidence in Britain, as has former Facebook employee Sandy Parakilas. Zuckerberg answered questions during a US congressional hearing, but has so far refused to appear before UK lawmakers, technically running the risk of being locked up in a bell tower as a result.
In providing answers to some of the 39 questions British lawmakers felt Schroepfer was unable to properly address, Facebook is hoping to appease some of the harsher critics present during the CTO’s hearing on April 26. One of the most heated exchanges that day came between Julian Knight and Schroepfer.
The Conservative minister said Facebook was a “morality-free zone”, destructive to privacy, and not an innocent party that was wronged by Cambridge Analytica. “Your company is the problem,” he said at the time.