Authorities in the U.S. and the U.K. are bearing down on Facebook and political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica over allegations the firm stole data from 50 million Facebook users and used it to manipulate elections.
There have been numerous demands for investigations and calls for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Zuckerberg said Wednesday that he is willing to testify before Congress to answer questions about the privacy scandal. But he suggested other executives might be better qualified to field questions from lawmakers.
IN THE UNITED KINGDOM:
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— PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE: The U.K. parliamentary media committee has summoned Zuckerberg to testify. The chairman, Damian Collins, said his panel has repeatedly asked Facebook how it uses data. He said Facebook officials “have been misleading to the committee.” In a letter to Zuckerberg, Collins wrote, “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.”
— INFORMATION COMMISSIONER: Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is pursuing a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s servers. Although Cambridge Analytica said it is committed to helping the U.K. investigation, Denham’s office said the firm failed to meet a deadline to produce the information requested. Denham said the prime allegation against Cambridge Analytica is that it acquired personal data in an unauthorized way.
IN THE UNITED STATES:
— SENATE: Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called Facebook’s latest privacy scandal a “danger signal.” She wants Zuckerberg’s assurances that Facebook is prepared to take the lead on security measures that protect people’s privacy — or Congress may step in. Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also wants Zuckerberg to testify. But Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, won’t commit to asking Zuckerberg to appear. Republicans on the Commerce Committee also have sent letters requesting information from Facebook and Cambridge parent SCL Group. And two other Democrats, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, both members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, want Facebook to answer additional questions about data access.
— HOUSE: Chris Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who became a whistleblower, has agreed to be interviewed by Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. A date has not been set, and it’s unclear if Republicans on the panel will attend.
— FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: A dozen consumer-advocacy organizations are pressing the FTC to investigate whether the release of data violated an agreement Facebook signed with the FTC in 2011 offering privacy assurances. Bloomberg News first reported the FTC could already be investigating. The FTC hasn’t confirmed the investigation but said it takes “any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously.”
— INDIVIDUAL STATES: Attorneys general in several states have launched or called for investigations. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said his office is investigating how personal information came into the possession of Cambridge Analytica. The top prosecutors in Massachusetts and New York have sent a letter to Facebook demanding the social media giant protect its users’ private information. Connecticut’s attorney general sent Zuckerberg a letter demanding answers.