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The UK’s parliament has seized internal Facebook documents as part of a privacy breach probe

November 26, 2018

A UK parliamentary committee has used ancient legal powers to seize internal Facebook papers as part of its investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to a report in the Observer.

What happened? Damian Collins, the chair of the select committeee on culture, media, and sport, invoked Parliament’s summoning rights to force Ted Kramer, founder of the US software firm Six4Three, to release the documents. A security representative was sent to his hotel with a two-hour deadline to give the papers up. When Kramer failed to do so, he was escorted to Parliament and handed the documents over.

What do they include? They’re believed to contain details on Facebook’s data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, such as e-mails between senior executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg. They could help provide information on the decisions made before the breach on how user data was handled.

Some context: Evidently, Zuckerberg’s repeated refusal to answer questions (even via video link) from Collins’s committee has riled its members. They could take some solace in the fact that Facebook has seen its share price plunge by $100 billion since the breach of 87 million user profiles was revealed.

What next? The committee will instead grill Facebook’s public policy VP Richard Allan tomorrow, November 27, during a hearing focused on misinformation and data privacy. Allan was a Liberal Democrat MP until 2005, so he will be on reasonably familiar territory. However, given the timing, it’s likely to be a lively hearing.

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