British politician questions Facebook over Russian data collection

Mr. Allan appeared for the hearing after the committee's chairman, British MP Damian Collins, took the unusual step of obtaining a trove of confidential internal Facebook documents from a visiting USA tech executive. While representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom were in attendance, one individual was glaringly absent: Mark Zuckerberg.

FACEBOOK boss Mark Zuckerberg was "empty chaired" and condemned for failing to show up to an inquiry in London.

Ian Lucas, a British politician, questioned Allan on when Zuckerberg became aware of the improper use of data for targeted political ads by the firm Cambridge Analytica and whether the company has taken action against other third-party developers for similar data breaches.

The committee laid out a place card marked "Mark Zuckerberg", which remained unoccupied during the hearing.

Allan said he was unaware of any such discussions and would have to get back to the committee with an answer.

Following the hearing, Facebook said it investigated the issue.

A grand committee consisting of representatives from several countries including the UK, Canada, France and Belgium met in Westminster today, convened by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, to question Facebook policy head Lord Richard Allan.

According to the Guardian, the documents were initially obtained during a legal discovery process by the now-defunct USA software company Six4Three, which is currently suing Facebook.

An global parliamentary panel hearing comprising of members from nine countries got together today to grill Facebook for its inability to combat fake news and manipulation of facts on its platform.

Allan, who is also a Liberal Democrat peer, admitted to the committee that Zuckerberg's decision not to appear was "not great". According to internal company documents, a Facebook engineer warned the social media giant of a data issue involving Russian Federation in 2014 - earlier than Facebook has previously publicly admitted.

Mr Zuckerberg (pictured below) appeared before the US Congress in April but has repeatedly refused to appear in London. "The engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity", the company said in an email to Bloomberg Tuesday.

However, he did refer to one item in the documents, alleging a Facebook engineer had "notified the company in October 2014 that entities with Russian IP addresses have been using a Pinterest API key to pull over 3 billion data points a day". The committee used its powers to force Theodore Kramer, chief executive of Six4Three, the company behind the photo app, who was on a business trip to London, to turn over the files.

He sought to portray details from the documents as partial information obtained by a "hostile litigant".

Should Zuckerberg continue to duck the committee, Collins could yet release the seized documents - as he has threatened to do - potentially further embarrassing Facebook's execs. "To the extent this is all clarified and we have a clear playbook to work from, that would be very helpful", he said.

"You are the arbiter right now of the news cycle around the world because of your video metrics", Angus said.

"This has generally been Facebook's answer to questions about its post-consent decree privacy practices".

  • Rogelio Becker