UK investigating Facebook’s response to alleged data breach

Facebook is currently facing investigations by authorities in the UK, EU, and the US, over a reported data incident between itself and consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

Posted by Times News on Wednesday, 21st March 2018

Mark Zuckerberg has been sent a formal request to appear before MPs and answer questions regarding a growing scandal about user data.

The company’s founder and chief executive has not commented on reports or made any public appearances following their publication.

Damian Collins MP, the chair of the culture committee, has written to Facebook’s chief executive to formally request that he appear before them in an oral evidence session.

Mr Collins wrote that the DCMS committee "has repeatedly asked Facebook about how companies acquire and hold on to user data from their site, and in particular about whether data had been taken without their consent.

"Your officials’ answers have consistently understated this risk, and have been misleading to the Committee," Mr Collins informed Mr Zuckerberg.

"It is now time to hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process."

In his letter, Mr Collins continued: "There is a strong public interest test regarding user protection. Accordingly we are sure you will understand the need for a representative from right at the top of the organisation to address concerns.

"Given your commitment at the start of the New Year to ’fixing’ Facebook, I hope that this representative will be you."

Conservative MP and minister for international trade, Greg Hands, noted that the Zip Code on the letter was incorrect, however.

"Old technology (ironically) but the letter may not even get there. Zip Code 94205 is Sacramento, in an entirely different part of California. Menlo Park is 94025," he wrote.

The letter comes just hours before Facebook plans to hold a crisis meeting for all employees following the allegations that data belonging to its users was harvested by Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica is accused of illegally harvesting the personal data of 50 million Facebook users.

This crisis meeting follows a stock fall of 7% on Monday which wiped $37bn (£26bn) off its value as investigations are launched by the UK’s Information Commissioner as well as European authorities.

Facebook shares were nearly 3% lower in early trading on Tuesday while other platforms, including Twitter and Snapchat’s owner, were also hit.

The letter stated that the committee would like to receive Mr Zuckerberg’s response by Monday 26 March.

The UK’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has sought an urgent court warrant to search the premises of Cambridge Analytica in London for evidence of any breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Ms Denham is pursuing evidence as part of her look at the company’s use of data analytics for political purposes and has filed for the warrant after Cambridge Analytica failed to respond to a deadline for access to its records.

Facebook may also be facing an investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission regarding whether it may have violated the terms of a consent decree, according to Bloomberg.

This investigation related to whether it allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest user data in violation of its policies, according to Bloomberg’s anonymous source.

It follows news that Facebook’s staff were themselves attending Cambridge Analytica’s offices on Monday night, which Ms Denham demanded they cease, stating that the social media company’s search "would potentially compromise a regulatory investigation".

Editor: Angelina William

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