British parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers

By | November 24, 2018

The Guardian reports:

Parliament has used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents in an extraordinary attempt to hold the US social media giant to account after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly refused to answer MPs’ questions.

The cache of documents is alleged to contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is claimed they include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg.

Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London. In another exceptional move, parliament sent a serjeant at arms to his hotel with a final warning and a two-hour deadline to comply with its order. When the software firm founder failed to do so, it’s understood he was escorted to parliament. He was told he risked fines and even imprisonment if he didn’t hand over the documents.

“We are in uncharted territory,” said Collins, who also chairs an inquiry into fake news. “This is an unprecedented move but it’s an unprecedented situation. We’ve failed to get answers from Facebook and we believe the documents contain information of very high public interest.”

The seizure is the latest move in a bitter battle between the British parliament and the social media giant. The struggle to hold Facebook to account has raised concerns about limits of British authority over international companies that now play a key role in the democratic process. [Continue reading…]

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