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Facebook's Zuckerberg summoned by British and European parliaments

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Facebook's Zuckerberg summoned by British and European parliaments

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Reuters
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British lawmakers and the European Parliament have summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence over the scandal involving embattled London-based company Cambridge Analytica. The move comes after multiple reports accused Cambridge Analytica of mining the personal data of some 50 million Facebook profiles for political analysis — including for the 2016 election campaign of now-President Donald Trump.

The allegations have put Facebook in the spotlight, yet again, as debate kicks off over whether the tech giant failed to protect users' data.

On Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica said it had suspended its chief executive Alexander Nix "pending a full independent investigation". The step was taken following the release of a secretly recorded meeting with an undercover Channel 4 reporter in which Nix alluded to offering entrapment and bribery to discredit political opponents.

In a statement, the UK House of Commons committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said: "The Representatives from Facebook previously gave evidence to the inquiry in Washington DC on Thursday 8th February. However, Facebook has since failed to supply requested supplementary evidence to the Committee by the deadline of 14th March.

"Subsequent information about Facebook’s connection to Cambridge Analytica raises further questions which the Committee intends to put to Facebook to answer in full."

The committee also said it would take evidence from former Facebook operations manager Sandy Parakilas, a whistleblower who previously investigated data breaches at the company, on Wednesday by video link.

"It has been painful watching,” he said to The Guardian in a March 20 interview. “Because I know that they could have prevented it.”

The committee's statement, which was signed by British MP Damian Collins, also read: "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.

"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."

Collins asked Zuckerberg to respond by March 26.

EU calls for Zuckerberg to testify

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Tuesday also requested the presence of Zuckerberg. "We’ve invited Mark Zuckerberg to the European Parliament. Facebook needs to clarify before the representatives of 500 million Europeans that personal data is not being used to manipulate democracy," said Tajani in a tweet.

Hours earlier he tweeted a video in which he criticised Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

"If true, manipulating our personal data is unacceptable and a threat to democracy," he said.

"This is why we, as Parliament, have to be very strict, understand what happened — how a company that works with Facebook has used personal information for private interests."