A cross-party committee of British lawmakers has asked Facebook Head, Mark Zuckerberg, to explain his firm’s “catastrophic failure of process” on the security of personal data.
Damian Collins, who heads Culture, Media and Sports Committee, said he had repeatedly asked Facebook how companies acquired and held on to user data from their site, and particularly if data had been taken without their consent.
“Your officials’ answers have consistently understated this risk and have been misleading to the committee,’’ Collins, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, said in an open letter to Zuckerberg.
The committee from the Commons, parliament’s elected lower house, is examining the role of Facebook as part of an inquiry into the role of “fake news” in British politics.
In a related move, Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said late Monday that her office was “seeking a warrant to obtain information and access to systems and evidence’’ from Cambridge Analytica (CA).
The CA has been accused of using information from potentially tens of millions of Facebook users without their consent.
But, opposition lawmakers said Denham’s advance notice of the warrant could allow the firm to delete evidence of alleged misuse of Facebook user data in U.S. elections.
“Giving CA and Facebook a warning to delete files, servers and evidence?’’ opposition Labour lawmaker, David Lammy, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Lammy said governments must work together to regulate how internet companies use personal data, because “individual nation-states will struggle to take on transnational tech empires like Facebook”.
Denham called for “full understanding of the facts, data flows and data uses,’’ adding that Facebook had agreed to stand down its search of CA’s premises because such search would potentially compromise regulatory investigation.
British investigators will examine the use of personal data for political campaigns, including “the acquisition and use of Facebook data by SCL, Doctor Kogan and Cambridge Analytica,” she said.
CA, which has been linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, faced a new scandal late Monday after top executives were caught on video apparently bragging about using bribes and entrapment to influence elections.
In an undercover sting operation by British broadcaster, Channel 4, Chief Executive, Alexander Nix, appeared to suggest the firm was willing to use, or had already used, “honey traps.”
The traps were said to have planted false reports online, hiring hidden subcontractors and setting up fake institutions and websites to gather data.
“Now we need to find out if Cambridge Analytica and leaks from Facebook played a key role in Brexit referendum,” Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, said on Twitter on Tuesday.
The company rejected allegations made in the “highly misleading” broadcast of exchanges between the CA executives and an undercover reporter posing as a Sri Lankan businessman.
“The report is edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of those conversations and how the company conducts its business,” CA said.
The second part of the Channel 4 documentary, scheduled to air late Tuesday, will reportedly feature CA executives boasting about how they helped Trump win the election.
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