Zuckerberg won’t go to UK for data privacy testimony, despite threat of future arrest

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Facebook says that it won’t send Mark Zuckerberg to the UK to appear before a Parliamentary committee that threatened to force him to testify the next time he entered the country if he wouldn’t come willingly. In a letter, Facebook’s head of public policy, Rebecca Stimson, wrote that Zuckerberg “has no plans to meet with the committee or travel to the UK at the present time.” She also sent her letter three days after the deadline Facebook was given to respond.

While Zuckerberg appeared before US Congress and has plans to meet with EU lawmakers, he declined to meet with the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Instead, Facebook sent Mike Schroepfer, its chief technical officer, to answer their questions. But the committee was unhappy with his answers — often, with the lack of them — if not also the snub. And so it sent Facebook a follow-up letter on May 1st saying that it would like Zuckerberg to appear to provide satisfactory responses.

“We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK,” committee chairman Damian Collins wrote at the time.

In a statement today, Collins said he is “disappointed” with Facebook’s response and lack of transparency. But he seems to be backing off of the summons threat and offers to accept testimony from Zuckerberg through a video call.

Still, by declining to appear, Zuckerberg risks being forced to testify the next time he has a connecting flight through Heathrow and potentially facing arrest if he doesn’t go along. And at a bare minimum, he’s guaranteed to have further pissed off UK lawmakers.

Facebook essentially says that it sees the request to see Zuckerberg as unreasonable. In her letter, Stimson writes that “Facebook has now held lengthy meetings or evidence sessions around the world.” That included providing written answers and five hours of testimony from a senior official to the UK committee. “We are disappointed after providing a very significant amount of information ... that the committee declared our response insufficient.”

Stimson’s letter also includes about 17 pages of answers to questions that Schroepfer didn’t give responses to during his testimony last month. One answer reveals that Facebook’s Like button, which sends data back to Facebook even if it isn’t clicked, is present on 8.4 million websites. Facebook’s tracking pixel, which also monitors users, is installed on 2.2 million websites.

Collins says these answers still aren’t good enough. “Given that these were follow up questions to questions Mr. Schroepfer previously failed to answer, we expected both detail and data, and in a number of cases got excuses,” he writes.

Facebook may want to avoid putting Zuckerberg in front of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee for a number of reasons. Aside from prolonging the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the committee has also shown itself to be substantially more technologically savvy than many lawmakers elsewhere and has thrown much tougher questions at the company.

The committee plans to follow up with Facebook to “address significant gaps” in the company’s answers as it continues to investigate its data privacy practices, as well as issues around propaganda, election ads, and content moderation.

Comments

Well he’ll miss out on all those holidays to Great Britain he had planned

Do people vacation in Britain that aren’t from America? Jc…

Astonishing number of Japanese and Koreans.

Interesting… tho it makes sense

A lot of russians do.

Now that I find somewhat surprising

yes, heaven forbid he destroy his image by getting a tan, eh? England would be the safest place in the world to preserve his delicate complexion…..lol.

Good. He can’t appear in front of every parliament in the world, and he’d be repeating the same things anyway

Yes he can. Every country is entitle to question him on his company’s misuse of their citizen’s data.
Don’t want to me summoned by every country? Don’t f*ck with every country’s citizen’s data.

That’s ridiculous. Each country is welcome to block Facebook if they’re not happy with the terms. Or prosecute if Facebook is breaking the law. Otherwise there is no issue

Every country also has the right to get answers from the CEO. You’re saying non-sense.

Answers for what? Have any laws been broken? Users on this site are living in a bubble. I don’t know anyone that’s stopped using Facebook, or even mentioned this scandal.

I know several people who dropped facebook over this, and even more who were talking about it but decided not to drop it.

I work in a computer /office equipment repair shop, so I heard a lot from our customers.

Just google around, you can find even more people who did the same thing.

I know several people who dropped facebook over this

And how many of them returned after missing it? I’m betting a lot.

What exactly is there to miss? Uninstall the apps.

I’m managed to reduce my usage to less than 30 mins a week, I keep it for contact and business reasons only.

What exactly is there to miss?
You’d be surprised. I think one of the Verge Staff reactivated their Facebook account after missing it.

it is odd that no one seems to do that, isn’t it?

Governments want to talk to you in order to clarify things instead of directly suing. You do not like it.

I doubt they’ll actually arrest an American CEO because he wouldn’t heed to a summon by U.K. parliament to play politics. Zuckerberg did not commit a crime and Facebook provided representatives to come in his absence. The University of Cambridge’s Cambridge Analytica committed the crime here and it wouldn’t look good on the U.K. economically to embarrass a top Fortune 100 CEO (especially with Brexit going on). What precedence would this set for future investors?

Cambridge Analytica was in no way affiliated with the University of Cambridge.

Pretty sure they would. There is only so much you can thumb your nose at a goverment as a CEO. Not appearing before the goverment to talk to them is pretty much the minimum they will ask of most CEOs of this size.

But would they do this to Chinese CEOs, especially if their investing in the U.K.? I think not! This ordeal doesn’t warrant the head of Facebook to show up. They’re just playing politics!

They are politicians. That is literally their job. And considering that Facebooks runs political ads, they are also into playing politics. If Facebook wanted to avoid these problems, they shouldn’t have let anyone run political ads or gotten into hosting news articles.

I agree.

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