MEPs Pressure Zuckerberg To Face European Parliament

A trip to Europe would show ‘respect’ as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal continues

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg came  under renewed pressure to come to Europe to testify in person over the Cambridge Analytica scandal this week, following appearances before the US Congress last week.

In a letter to Zuckerberg, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani urged him not to send a junior executive to speak to the EU’s lawmaking body.

European lawmakers play an important role in shaping the regulations that govern tech companies like Facebook, he said, adding that going forward, the Parliament would be looking to “reinforce the regulatory framework to ensure a well-functioning digital market with high level protection for our citizens”.

EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova said the Cambridge Analytica case should not be treated as “business as usual”.

facebook samsung virtual reality zuckerbergNo ‘business as usual’

“This case is too important to treat as business as usual,” Jourova told an assembly of MEPs, according to Reuters. “I advised (Facebook chief operating officer) Sheryl Sandberg that Zuckerberg should accept the invitation from the European Parliament.”

She added that Andrius Ansip, the EU’s digital chief, considered the invitation “a measure of rebuilding trust”.

Zuckerberg is to meet Ansip in San Francisco next week, after answering questions in the US Congress for nearly 10 hours over two days last week.

Facebook has so far seen little practical fallout from the incident, in which political consultancy Cambridge Analytica is accused of improperly obtaining and using data on 87 million of the social network’s users.

It is only the latest of many privacy failings in the company’s history.

Ahead of the introduction of the GDPR data protection rules next month, Facebook took the opportunity this week to reintroduce a controversial face-scanning feature for European users, a move some analysts said was sailing close to the wind.

‘Astonishing’ refusal

MEP Sophia in’t Veld said a trip to the EU by Zuckerberg would show “respect”.

“I think Zuckerberg would be well advised to appear at the Parliament out of respect for Europeans,” in’t Veld said.

Last month Zuckerberg declined to face British MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee to answer questions over data abuse.

Committee chair Damian Collins called the refusal “absolutely astonishing”.

“I would certainly urge him to think again if he has any care for people that use his company’s services,” Collins said at the time.

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