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Zuckerberg Snubs UK amid Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Mark Zuckerberg giving evidence before the US Senate

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he does not have any plans to appear before the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to give evidence about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The snub follows threats of an official summons, and a hearing given by Facebook’s CTO Mike Schroepfer, which the Committee found to be unsatisfactory.

Following the hearing with Schroepfer  weeks ago, the Committee published an angry letter detailing 39 questions that, according to the Committee, the Facebook’s exec had failed to answer convincingly.

“It is disappointing that a company with the resources of Facebook chooses not to provide a sufficient level of detail and transparency on various points including on Cambridge Analytica, dark ads, Facebook Connect, the amount spent by Russia on UK ads on the platform, data collection across the web, budgets for investigations,” Committee Chair Damian Collins said.

Now, though, Facebook’s UK Head of Public Policy Rebecca Stimson told the Committee that  “Zuckerberg has no plans to meet with the committee or travel to the UK at the present time.” Facebook provided written answers to the MPs’ questions.

Infuriatingly enough, it has emerged that Zuckerberg will appear before the European Parliament in Brussels next week, ahead of giving a speech at a tech event in Paris.

The issuance of an official summons could result in Zuckerberg being theoretically obliged to appear before the Committee as soon as he sets foot in Britain. There are doubts, though, about whether Committee-imposed sanctions would be practically effective, as serious penalties such as fines or arrest have not been enforced for decades.

A summons’ public-shaming power, though, has in the past proved strong enough to convince Rupert Murdoch to appear in front of the same committee in 2011, with regard to the phone hacking scandal.

“If Mark Zuckerberg truly recognises the ‘seriousness’ of these issues as they say they do, we would have expected that he would want to appear,” Collins said, reacting to the fresh snub.

“Although Facebook says Mr Zuckerberg has no plans to travel to the UK, we would also be open to taking his evidence by video link, if that would be the only way to do this,” he added.

Image via US Senate

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