A group of global lawmakers are joining forces for the first time to demand answers from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Politicians from the UK and Canada investigating the spread of disinformation have joined forces to try to make Mark Zuckerberg give evidence on the subject.
  • The lawmakers Damian Collins of the UK and Bob Zimmer of Canada have formed an unprecedented joint committee and plan to hold a hearing in London on November 27.
  • They chastised Zuckerberg for sending more junior representatives to give evidence to the British and Canadian committees and said evidence from him was “now overdue, and urgent.”

Lawmakers from Britain and Canada have joined forces to try to make Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answer their questions about the spread of disinformation.

Damian Collins, who leads the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, and Bob Zimmer, the chair of Canada’s Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics, wrote a joint letter to Zuckerberg.

The letter says that over the past year both committees have tried to obtain evidence from a Facebook executive about “failures of process” including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and data breaches.


Read more: Facebook gets maximum fine for the catastrophic Cambridge Analytica data breach

“You have chosen instead to send less senior representatives, and have not yourself appeared, despite having taken up invitations from the US Congress and Senate, and the European Parliament,” the letter says.

Both committees say they plan to publish final reports by December and view Zuckerberg’s evidence as “now overdue, and urgent.”

The newly formed “International Grand Committee” plans to hold an unprecedented joint hearing in the British Parliament on November 27, and the letter says that while it will be led by Collins and Zimmer, “a number of other parliaments are likely to be represented.”

“We call on you to take up this historic opportunity to tell parliamentarians from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond about the measures Facebook is taking to halt the spread of disinformation on your platform, and to protect user data,” the letter concludes.

The letter gives Zuckerberg until November 7 to respond. “We’ve received the committee’s letter and will respond to Mr Collins by his deadline,” a Facebook spokeswoman told Business Insider.

You can read the full letter here:

Dear Mr Zuckerberg,

‘International grand committee’ hearing: call for evidence

We write jointly as Chairs of the committees of the UK and Canadian Houses of Commons appointed to scrutinize digital policy, including disinformation and the governance of the internet.

Over the past year, our committees have both sought evidence from a Facebook executive with sufficient authority to give an accurate account of recent failures of process, including the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent data breaches.

You have chosen instead to send less senior representatives, and have not yourself appeared, despite having taken up invitations from the US Congress and Senate, and the European Parliament.

We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments. However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organisation – directly, via yourself. We would have thought that this responsibility is something that you would want to take up. We both plan to issue final reports on this issue by the end of this December, 2018. The hearing of your evidence is now overdue, and urgent.

We plan to hold a special joint parliamentary hearing at the Westminster Parliament on Tuesday 27th November-an ‘international grand committee’ on disinformation and fake news. This will be led by ourselves but a number of other parliaments are likely to be represented.

No such joint hearing has ever been held. Given your self-declared objective to “fix” Facebook, and to prevent the platform’s malign use in world affairs and democratic process, we would like to give you the chance to appear at this hearing.

We call on you to take up this historic opportunity to tell parliamentarians from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond about the measures Facebook is taking to halt the spread of disinformation on your platform, and to protect user data.

We would like to receive your response by Wednesday 7 November.

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