Mark Zuckerberg to face angry lawmakers as Facebook firestorm rages

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Mark Zuckerberg will appear before US lawmakers this week as a firestorm rocks Facebook over its data privacy scandal, with pressure mounting for new regulations on social media platforms.

The 33-year-old chief executive is expected to face a grilling before a Senate panel Tuesday, and follow up with an appearance in the House of Representatives the following day.

It comes amid a raft of inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic following disclosures that data on 87 million users was hijacked and improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

On Sunday, Facebook said it had suspended another data analysis firm, US-based Cubeyou, after CNBC reported it used Facebook user information — harvested from psychological testing apps, as in the case of Cambridge Analytica — for commercial purposes.

“These are serious claims and we have suspended CubeYou from Facebook while we investigate them,” a Facebook spokesperson told AFP in an email.

“If they refuse or fail our audit, their apps will be banned from Facebook.”

Lawmakers, meanwhile, have signaled they intend to get tough on Facebook and other online services over privacy.

“A day of reckoning is coming for websites like @facebook,” Democratic Senator Ed Markey wrote on Twitter Friday.

“We need a privacy bill of rights that all Americans can rely upon.”

Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, agreed that legislation is needed “to protect Americans’ dignity and privacy from bad faith actors like Cambridge Analytica, who use social media data to manipulate people.”

Khanna tweeted that “self-regulation will not work. Congress must act in the public interest to protect consumers and citizens.”

Several lawmakers and activists believe the United States should follow the lead of Europe’s data protection law set to be implemented in May, which has strict terms for notification and sharing of personal data online.

Zuckerberg told reporters Facebook would follow the European rules worldwide, although cautioned that its implementation may not be “exactly the same format” for various countries and regions.

 

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