UK Parliament seizes internal Facebook documents

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly declined requests to testify before Parliament about the company’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.


James Martin/CNET

The British Parliament has seized internal Facebook documents in an unusual attempt to address questions the government feels the company has been avoiding.

The documents reportedly contain “significant revelations” about Facebook decisions on data and privacy control related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as correspondence between top executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, The Guardian reported Saturday.

The founder of Six4Three, a now-defunct US software company, was compelled to hand over the documents through a rare parliamentary instrument during a business trip to London, the newspaper reported. In another unusual move, Parliament sent an officer to the founder’s hotel with a warning to comply with the order or face possible fines or imprisonment, The Guardian reported.

The seizure came as more countries called Zuckerberg to attend a joint international hearing in London next week investigating disinformation and election interference. Facebook has been under intense scrutiny for how it has responded to the presence of propaganda and other forms of disinformation appearing in people’s Facebook news feeds.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly turned down requests to testify before Parliament about Facebook’s role in the data scandal.

The documents were seized during the discovery process in a Six4Three lawsuit that claims Facebook created privacy loopholes that allowed Cambridge Analytica to obtain Facebook user data.

Facebook pointed out that the documents seized were filed under seal and the California court presiding over the case is due to consider the Parliament’s action as early as Monday.  

“We consider these to be entirely without merit and that the repeated filings demonstrate that this is more about attacking our company than it is about a credible legal claim,” Richard Allen, Facebook’s head of public policy, wrote in a letter sent to Parliament Sunday.

Representatives for Six4Three couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.


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