Mark Zuckerberg won’t answer parliament’s data-privacy questions

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, has declined a request to personally answer a parliamentary committee’s questions about his company’s use of user data.

Mark Zuckerberg won’t answer parliament's data-privacy questions

Following revelations of potential data misuse by Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly harvested 50 million Facebook profiles without their consent, Collins wrote to Zuckerberg requesting the social media firm send a representative to face questioning by the parliamentary committee, suggesting the 33-year-old should himself attend.

In a response to the MP issued yesterday, Facebook’s head of public policy in the UK, Rebecca Stimson, said Zuckerberg would not attend but has instead asked the chief technology officer and chief product officer to make themselves available.

“Facebook fully recognises the level of public and parliamentary interest in these issues and support your belief that these issues must be addressed at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position to answer your questions,” she said. “As such, Mr Zuckerberg has personally asked one of his deputies to make themselves available to give evidence in person to the Committee.”

The nominated representatives are CTO Mike Schroepfer, who is “responsible for Facebook’s technology including the company’s developer platform” – something that lies at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – and CPO Chris Cox, who “leads development of Facebook’s core products and features including News Feed”.

Stimson’s letter points out that the two are some of the longest-serving staff members, report directly to the CEO and, due to their positions, will be “well placed to answer the Committee’s questions on these complex subjects”.

She also laid out steps Facebook is taking to protect user data in the future and investigations it’s carrying out now to determine the extent of the nonconsensual data collection allegedly carried out by Cambridge Analytica through its platform.

Collins responded this morning, saying the committee would ask Cox to attend, but expressed dismay that Zuckerberg would not appear as requested.

“Given the seriousness of these issues we still believe that Mark Zuckerberg is the right person to give evidence, and would like him to confirm if he will make himself available to the Committee,” Collins said. “He stated in interviews that if he is the right person to appear he will appear. We think he is the right person and look forward to hearing from him.”

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