The UK Parliament used a rarely-used procedure to compel an app developer to seize a number of internal Facebook documents related to the company’s decision-making process preceding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, reports The Guardian. The documents reportedly contain “significant revelations” about the decisions that set the stage for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The paper reports that MP Damian Collins, the chair of Parliament’s Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee acted after Facebook officials have repeatedly refused to make Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg available to testify before the body regarding the scandal. At the end of October, UK regulators issued a £500,000 fine against the company, which has said that it will appeal.
Parliamentary officials used a procedure to summon the founder of defunct app developer Six4Three, which is in the process of suing Facebook, alleging that the social media company used a “range of methods” to collect information about users — such as location data and text messages — with misleading privacy and data controls. While Facebook said that the claim had “no merit,” it used California laws to shield court documents. When Six4Three’s founder arrived in London, Parliamentary officials moved to seize the documents, sending a Parliamentary Serjeant at Arms to his hotel with an order to turn over the documents. When he failed to do so, he was “escorted to parliament” and informed that he was risking fines and jail time if he didn’t hand over the documents.
The documents in question reportedly contain e-mails between senior Facebook officials, including Zuckerberg that Six4Three obtained during the discovery process of their suit against the social media company. They reportedly detail what Facebook knew regarding its privacy policies. Six4Three claims that Facebook deliberately created the loopholes that allowed data analytics firms like Cambridge Analytica to exploit the personal data of millions of users.
In a statement, Facebook said that “The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure. We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook,” to which MP Ian Lucas said: “Too late.”