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The European Parliament has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, inviting him to come before the Parliament to answer questions, in a letter published on Wednesday 18 April 2018.
This is the second time the Parliament has extended such an invitation. In response to their first call in March 2018, Mr. Zuckerberg offered to send Facebook’s Vice-President for public policy and external affairs, Joel Kaplan, in his place. However, the Parliament has stressed that they want Mr. Zuckerberg himself to come to Europe.
MEPs want Mr Zuckerberg to answer questions around Facebook’s data policies and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed hundreds of thousands of Facebook users unknowingly had their data collected and misused. This data was then used to target political ads at Facebook users, and for other commercial purposes. This was a significant revelation, and there are concerns about the impact this activity has on democratic processes.
The call comes after Mr Zuckerberg went before the US Congress in Washington two weeks ago, who were seeking to get similar answers. However, there are more Facebook users in the EU than there are in the US, and the European Parliament believe they should be able to question him themselves.
In the letter, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani writes, “We are convinced that the millions of Europeans affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal deserve a full and thorough explanation from Facebook’s top manager, just as was the case for US citizens.”
Irish MEPs Lynn Boylan, Brian Hayes and Séan Kelly were among those to support the call to bring Mark Zuckerberg to Europe to answer questions.
Data protection in Europe
Data protection is something that the European Union already take very seriously, and with new data regulations, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), coming into force on May 25, the EU will soon become more vigilant around data protection breaches.
The aim of the GDPR is to give European citizens more control over their own personal data, and any foreign companies, such as Facebook, who process the data of those living in the EU, must follow the new rules.