MPs gather Facebook privacy breach documents

Papers connected to the relationship between Facebook / Cambridge Analytica have been seized by MPs as part of the ongoing investigation into a scandal that brings new urgency to the need for better transparency in the way data is used by political parties.

 The head of a tech firm in the States was obliged to pass on the documents, following the invoking of a seldom-used power of the UK parliament.

Speaking to the BBC following the Observer’s initial reporting of the story, MP Damian Collins said the papers were “highly relevant” to the inquiry, while Facebook has requested that the papers be returned. Included in the details was information on privacy controls used by the popular social media platform.

Mr Collins asserted his belief that the information will reveal how Mark Zuckerberg’s company and other organisations deal with personal user data.

Speaking to the BBC, he said:

“We felt this [information] was highly relevant to the inquiry… and therefore we sent an order to Mr [Ted] Kramer through the serjeant at arms asking that these documents be supplied to us. Ultimately, that order was complied with.”

Mr Collins, who is chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, said that a debate will take place with the Committee following a full review of the documents.

Unprecedented methods

A House of Commons serjeant at arms obtained the papers when he was directed to a London hotel where they had been in the possession of an executive from US software company, Six4three.

Failing to comply with an order to submit the documents, the Six4three boss was taken to parliament under escort and told he may face financial penalties and jail if the papers were not forthcoming, the Observer said.

The papers had been originally seized through the courts in the States, where Six4Three is embroiled in legal wrangling with Facebook.

Mr Collins described Facebook’s unhelpful attitude towards working with the Committee, stating “documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers.”

Meanwhile Facebook have insisted the documents are under a protective order that restricts disclosure, without making further comments.

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