Global panel grills Zuckerberg for failing to appear at hearing

Global panel grills Zuckerberg for failing to appear at hearing

A cohort of global lawmakers is trying to turn up the pressure on Facebook, grilling one of its executives and making a show of founder Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to explain to them why his company failed to protect users' data privacy.

A picture of the vacant chair was posted on the Twitter page of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the group of British MPs leading the probe.

Lawmakers from the United Kingdom and other nations lambasted Facebook during the hearing for abusing public trust and failing to provide honest answers to questions about the misuse of user data.

The hearing follows the unusual seizure of internal Facebook documents from another company by the committee using parliament's ancient legal powers.

He said he took responsibility for deciding who appeared at which committee.

"An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with Russian IP have been using a Pinterest API key to pull over 3 billion data points a day", he said.

A view of the International Grand Committee with representation from nine countries' parliaments and Mark Zuckerberg's non-attendance at the U.K. Parliament in London on November 27, 2018.

Damian Collins, in charge of the hearing and committee, said in a Sunday tweet that he had reviewed the documents.

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"The engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity", a Facebook spokesperson told TIME, while also alleging that the documents had been selectively leaked by a party trying to sue the company.

Lawmakers from Canada, Ireland, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Belgium, France and Latvia joined their British counterparts at the parliamentary select committee hearing - the first such cross-border event in London since 1933.

The Liberal Democrat peer and Facebook executive faced stern questioning on Tuesday over a range of criticisms including recent data breaches, allegations of business malpractice, repeated electoral interference and the rampant spread of disinformation and hate speech on the platform. Collins said his committee would not release the full cache of documents "at this time".

"So Mr Zuckerberg's decision not to appear here at Westminster to me speaks volumes", he said, later suggesting Facebook could be broken up to help address the issues.

The Facebook founder and CEO was asked to attend by the committee.

Allan criticized the source as a "hostile litigant", who seeks to reverse the privacy changes Facebook made so that it could access friends of friends' data once again, but ultimately argued that the information is "at best partial" and that he would "come back to" Collins with an answer.

Six4Three obtained the internal Facebook emails through legal mechanisms in the USA, where the company is involved in court action against the social media giant. "To the extent this is all clarified and we have a clear playbook to work from, that would be very helpful", he said.

Allan admitted that the company has "damaged public trust through some of the actions we have taken". In August, Facebook temporarily suspended over 400 apps over concerns they may have mishandled users' personal data. Repeatedly, though, Facebook said its top executive was unable to appear, only opting earlier this month to send Allan, a former member of British Parliament, in his place.

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