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UK committee asks Zuckerberg to testify on ‘catastrophic’ Facebook privacy failure

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Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

A UK Parliamentary committee has asked Mark Zuckerberg to appear and provide testimony on how Facebook acquires, stores, and protects users’ data. Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, writes in a letter to Zuckerberg that Facebook officials have “consistently understated” the risk of data being taken without users’ consent and have misled the committee.

“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,” Collins writes. He specifically requests that Zuckerberg be the person to appear before the committee to answer for those failures, noting that the CEO made it his goal for the year to “fix” the site’s many issues. If not Zuckerberg, Collins asks for some other person “from right at the top” of the company.

Collins requests a response by next Monday, March 26th. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the company would respond by then. “We have received a letter from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee and will of course respond by the given deadline. In the meantime, we continue to engage with the committee and respond to their requests for information,” the spokesperson said.

The letter doesn’t compel Facebook or Zuckerberg to appear before the committee, so it’s possible nothing will come of this. However, with increasing scrutiny on the social network’s handling of user data — not to mention the whole political propaganda thing — it seems likely that we’ll hear more from Facebook, if not Zuckerberg himself, on these issues soon. Zuckerberg, however, has been conspicuously absent in recent weeks and has so far remained silent on the Cambridge Analytica scandal.