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Zuckerberg not to appear before UK MPs

Mark Zuckerberg has asked Facebook executives Mike Schroepfer and Chris Cox to appear instead him before a British parliamentary committee.

world Updated: Mar 27, 2018 23:49 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
File photo shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the social media giant’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
File photo shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the social media giant’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. (AP)

Under fire in several countries over the misuse of data from Facebook, the social media giant’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has chosennot toappear before a British parliamentary committee that had summoned him, and has instead asked one of his two senior-most executives to do so.

In a letter to Damian Collins, chairman of the digital, culture, media and sports committee, Facebook UK’s head of public policy Rebecca Stimson said Zuckerberg had “personally asked” one of his deputies to give evidence before the committee.

The two named in the letter are Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer, and Chris Cox, chief product officer. Stimson said both report to Zuckerberg and are well placed to answer the panel’s questions on the complex issue.

The issue relates to misuse of personal data on Facebook, which was reportedly exploited by political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) during the last US elections. CA whistle-blower Christopher Wylie deposed before the committee on Monday.

Before Wylie’s deposition, Collins repeated his call for Zuckerberg to give evidence to the committee either in person or by video link: “We believe, given the serious nature of the allegations that have been made around the access and use of Facebookuser data, that it is appropriate that Mark Zuckerberg should give evidence to the committee.

“He has suggested that Chris Cox, the chief product officer at Facebook, could come to London to give evidence to the committee in the first week after the Easter recess. So we would be very happy to invite Mr Cox to give evidence. However, we would still like to hear from Mr Zuckerberg as well.”

Collins added: “We will seek to clarify from Facebook whether he is available to give evidence or not, because that wasn’t clear from our correspondence. If he is available to give evidence then we would be happy to do that either in person or by video link, if that would be more convenient for him.”

Stimson set out six steps in the letter that Facebook had undertaken after the controversy broke, and said ongoing analysis to remedy the situation includes providing country-wise data on the number of people affected by an app developed by a Cambridge academic that scooped up personal information.

She said: “There will be two sets of data. The first is people who downloaded the app, and the second is the number of friends of those people who had their privacy settings set in such a way that the app could see some of their data.

“This second figure will be much higher than the first and we will look to provide both broken down by country as soon as we can,” she added.