Mark Zuckerberg Asked to Give Evidence by Commons Committee over Data Sharing

Mark Zuckerberg will be asked to give evidence at a Commons committee examining allegations of unauthorised sharing of Facebook user data, an MP has said.

Damian Collins, chair of the digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) committee, said the Facebook chief executive must provide answers after an investigation alleged Cambridge Analytica, a British political campaigns firm, acquired and kept information about users.

“Data has been taken from Facebook users without their consent, and was then processed by a third party and used to support their campaigns,” Mr Collins wrote on the House of Commons website.

“I will be writing to Mark Zuckerberg asking that either he, or another senior executive from the company, appear to give evidence in front of the Committee as part our inquiry.”

MPs, led by Damian Collins, are in Washington DC

Mr Collins said Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, had “deliberately mislead” the DCMS committee by denying his company had received information from data collection firm Global Science Research (GSR).

An investigation by the Observer and New York Times found GSR, which is owned by Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan, collected information on up to 50 million people through a personality-testing app.

Hundreds of thousands gave permission for their data to be collected for academic use by the app, but it also collected information about their Facebook friends, reports found.

The Information Commissioner’s Officer said on Saturday it would investigate the potential breach after whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed Cambridge Analytica had used personal information to build a system that profiled US voters to target them with political ads.

Cambridge Analytica chief Alexander Nix

Facebook this week suspended the firm, which worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, after it emerged it had not deleted information about Facebook users.

In a blog post, the social network said Dr Kogan had violated its rules by passing on user data to a third party, and that both he and Cambridge Analytica had failed to delete the information despite providing assurances they had done so.

In his statement Mr Collins wrote that Facebook had failed to adequately cooperate with DCMS, by deliberately understating the risks of companies acquiring and keeping user data, failing to properly answer questions from the committee, and creating a “false reassurance” of “robust” privacy policies.

“Someone has to take responsibility for this,” he wrote. “It’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his Facebook page.”

Representatives in the US congress have also called for further regulation of Facebook and some have called for Mr Zuckerberg to appear before a senate committee.

In response to the allegations on Saturday, Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar said it was “clear these platforms can’t police themselves”.

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