Facebook's Zuckerberg to meet European Parliament over privacy

Facebook's Zuckerberg to meet European Parliament over privacy”

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday said Zuckerberg had accepted the EU institution's invitation to travel across the Atlantic and face lawmakers in person as soon as next week. Zuckerberg will meet privately with members of the European Parliament's Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as well as party leaders.

Tajani reportedly personally invited Zuckerberg to speak directly to a parliamentary body, giving him the opportunity to explain firsthand what happened to European Facebook users once their data was mined by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm that combines data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication.

"If Mark Zuckerberg truly recognizes the "seriousness" of these issues ... we would expect that he would want to appear in front of the Committee and answer questions that are of concern not only to Parliament, but Facebook's tens of millions of users in this country", Collins said. "It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence", he said.

In a statement to CBS News, Facebook confirmed the planned meeting.

"The Conference of Presidents chose to organise a hearing with Facebook and other parties concerned".

The president of the ALDE liberal group, Guy Verhofstadt, has already said he would not attend the meeting if it was held in private.

Cambridge Analytica Data breach scandal
Cambridge Analytica Data breach scandal

The timing of Zuckerberg's visit may coincide with the introduction of Europe's new sweeping data protection laws on May 25.

Facebook admitted earlier this month that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.

Damian Collins, head of the United Kingdom parliament's media committee, has said he hopes Zuckerberg would take advantage of his trip to Europe next week to visit London and testify there as well. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires companies to give European citizens greater control over their personal data.

Although Zuckerberg testified last month to the U.S. Congress, he had always been noncommittal about an appearance in Europe, sending his chief technical officer to speak to the British parliament and delaying confirmation of any visit to Brussels. Collins warned Zuckerberg last month that if he does not come voluntarily, he could be issued a formal summons, which would force him to appear before the parliament when he next enters the United Kingdom.

- Dylan Byers contributed reporting.

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