Facebook chief refuses to cooperate with UK

Facebook’s public policy head says Zuckerberg ready to send one of his deputies instead
LONDON: Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg will not personally give evidence to a British parliamentary committee inquiry into fake news, a letter to the committee said.
Rebecca Stimson, Facebook’s head of public policy, said in the letter submitted to Damian Collins, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, that Zuckerberg was ready to send one of his deputies to give evidence to British lawmakers.
Stimson said the deputies “report directly to Mr Zuckerberg and are among the longest-serving senior representatives in Facebook’s 15-year history. Both of them have extensive expertise in these issues and are well placed to answer the committee’s questions on these complex subjects.”
The committee had asked Zuckerberg to provide evidence following the allegations that a U.K.-based IT firm, Cambridge Analytica, breached privacy rules in harvesting data from millions of Facebook users in the U.S.
British Prime Minister Theresa May last week said she expected “full compliance” from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica in an investigation over the recent allegations regarding data harvesting methods and influencing of democratic processes in various countries.
“The allegations are clearly very concerning; it is absolutely right they should be properly investigated,” May told the House of Commons.
Cambridge Analytica is at the center of data breach allegations since a former employee, Christopher Wylie, went public to tell how he built a software to influence voters’ choices.
British daily The Observer and The New York Times reported that the company used the personal information of 50 million Facebook users to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016 in Donald Trump’s favor.
The controversial data analytics firm said last week it suspended its CEO Alexander Nix and launched an independent investigation surrounding his role in a mass data breach revealed earlier this week.
An investigation by Channel 4 News revealed how the suspended Cambridge Analytica CEO claimed the firm ran “all” of U.S. President Donald Trump’s digital campaign and may have broken election law.
“The Board of Cambridge Analytica has announced today that it has suspended CEO Alexander Nix with immediate effect, pending a full, independent investigation,” the firm said in a press release shortly after the Channel 4 report.
The letter said one of the deputies could appear before the inquiry committee after the Easter parliamentary recess, which is due to end on April 16.
“We believe, given the serious nature of the allegations that have been made around the access and use of Facebook user data, that it is appropriate that Mark Zuckerberg should give evidence to the committee,” Collins said.
“Facebook and Cambridge Analytica is only one strand of our investigation. Our investigation involves more than 30 organizations,” the U.K.’s information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said last week.
The Information Commissioner’s Office continues its investigation into the matter after it gained access to Cambridge Analytica files with a special warrant issued by a court.–AA

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