Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic are demanding that Mark Zuckerberg explain how upward of 50 million Facebook profiles ended up in the hands of data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica — which then used the information to help micro-target voters during the 2016 election.
Facebook has been under the spotlight of for months, with its general counsel Colin Stretch testifying before the Senate in November about Russian efforts to use its platform to interfere during the election.
But the scale of this latest data breach — coupled with the recent expose by Channel 4 News, which reported that Cambridge Analytica offered to use entrapment against political opponents — has left British and American lawmakers fed up with Zuckerberg’s decision to send his subordinates to answer for the social media giant’s failings.
Sen. Amy Kloubuchar (D-MN) is calling on Zuckerberg to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “This is a major breach that must be investigated. It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,” she tweeted on Saturday. “Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary.”
Her demands were echoed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Monday in an open letter to Zuckerberg. “The troubling reporting on the ease with which Cambridge Analytica was able to exploit Facebook’s default privacy settings…raises serious concerns about the role Facebook played in facilitating and permitting the covert collection and misuse of consumer information,” he wrote. “Cambridge Analytica was able to use Facebook-developed marketed tools to weaponize detailed psychological profiles against tens of millions of Americans.”
With little oversight & no meaningful intervention from @Facebook, Cambridge Analytica was able to use Facebook- developed & marketed tools to weaponize detailed psychological profiles against tens of millions of Americans.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) March 19, 2018
Wyden then demanded that Zuckerberg answer a series of questions about the breach, including whether Facebook had identified the users impacted and notified then, how many apps it had audited over the last ten years, and why Facebook did not suspend Cambridge Analytica in 2015 when it learned the company has obtained and used the data.
Kloubuchar’s and Wyden’s calls were backed up by a similar open letter to Zuckerberg from Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Jerry Moran (R-KS). The three senators — who sit on the Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over data privacy issues — want to establish whether or not Facebook had been transparent with consumers. Sen. Kloubuchar also then joined with Louisiana Republican Sen. John N. Kennedy to ask Zuckerberg to explain how Cambridge Analytica managed to harvest data from Facebook. Sen. Marker Warner (D-VA) called for Zuckerberg to testify in front of the Senate.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, British lawmakers want Zuckerberg to appear before a Parliamentary Committee to ask how companies acquired data from Facebook. “Your officials’ answers have consistently understated this risk, and have been misleading to the Committee,” Damian Collins MP said. “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. Given your commitment at the start of the New Year to “fixing” Facebook, I hope this representative will be you.”
Official now: UK Commons committee writes to Mark Zuckerberg asking him to get on a plane and front an inquiry in London. pic.twitter.com/VHxd2opClh
— Mark Di Stefano 🤙🏻 (@MarkDiStef) March 20, 2018
But despite the increasing demands for answers from lawmakers — not to mention other issues plaguing the company, like reports of Facebook’s stock tanking and a social media campaign encouraging users to delete Facebook — the only thing that can be heard out of 1 Hacker Way is deafening silence. Neither Zuckerberg nor his Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, have made any public statement since the Cambridge Analytica story broke over the weekend.