European Parliament president Antonio Tajani announced that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with Parliament to discuss the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Tajani said Zuckerberg is expected to head to Brussels to answer Parliament’s questions as early as next week.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica collected information about 50 million Facebook users in America through a quiz app that did not disclose how much data it was gathering or how it would be used. Lawmakers around the world haven’t been pleased about that revelation, and many have called on Facebook executives generally and Zuckerberg specifically to answer questions about how this happened.
Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April. But when it came time to answer questions from Parliament, Zuckerberg sent Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer in his stead. Parliament didn’t find Schroepfer’s answers satisfactory, however, and the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee chairman, Damian Collins, requested that Zuckerberg travel to the UK so he could personally testify on Facebook’s behalf.
Collins sent a letter to Facebook’s head of public policy, Rebecca Stimson, a few days later to warn that Zuckerberg would receive a formal summons on his next trip to the UK if he didn’t testify in front of Parliament before May 24. It’s not clear if Zuckerberg’s planned trip to Brussels will satisfy Collins’ demand for his testimony; Zuckerberg is meeting with the European Parliament instead of with the UK Parliament.
Either way, Zuckerberg will finally address European concerns about who has access to Facebook’s user data, what they’re allowed to do with that information, and for how long they’re able to hold on to it. Tajani said in his statement announcing Zuckerberg’s agreement to testify:
The founder and CEO of Facebook has accepted our invitation and will be in Brussels as soon as possible, hopefully already next week, to meet the leaders of the political groups and the Chair and the Rapporteur of the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).
Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation. I welcome Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500 million Europeans. It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence.
Neither Facebook nor Zuckerberg have released statements about when he plans to answer the European Parliament’s questions, or if the wandering CEO plans to visit the UK while he’s in the neighborhood (so to speak). The clock is ticking on that May 25 deadline, and if Zuckerberg wants to see Big Ben any time soon, he’s going to have to continue to meet with lawmakers even after the Brussels trip.