back to article Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe

British MPs have made unprecedented use of Parliamentary powers to send a serjeant at arms to the hotel where the boss of a US software biz was staying to seize potentially damaging documents on Facebook. The cache allegedly shows internal messages – including from Mark Zuckerberg – that demonstrate the social network actively …

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  1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Happy

    The irony....

    Facebook don't like other people collecting their data.

    1. EveryTime Silver badge

      Re: The irony....

      > "Facebook don't like other people collecting their data."

      I believe that you are wrong in this case.

      Facebook was looking for effective ways to monetize their users. They approached it in the Silicon Valley way -- encourage a bunch of start-ups to try different things, and then copy or buy the ones that gained traction. In this case it also had the benefit of distancing them from unsavory practices that they didn't want to be associated with (unless it made money).

      The discovery documents presumably showed that Facebook knew exactly what was being shared through the API, and that they tracked the usage in order to evaluate what was succeeding.

      1. doublelayer

        Re: The irony....

        I believe you may have missed the point. The irony is that data about facebook was recently obtained, but facebook didn't want that data released. So facebook violates their users' privacy but want to keep their own corporate data private.

        The rest of your comment is good though.

    2. el kabong
      Thumb Down

      Faecebook zucks

      it zucks and it sucks.

  2. Clockworkseer

    Predictably, the leftpondian response has run the gamut from "goodgood" to "how dare the UK do something like this, this justifies the revolutionary war!"

    We'll ignore the fact their Senate Committees can do more or less the same thing.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Go

      Sovereign Power applied.

      >>>We'll ignore the fact their Senate Committees can do more or less the same thing.<<<

      All countries have the same powers.

      This is what happens if you P*** off parliament for long enough. let's see how many FB execs take foreign trips in the coming months.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sovereign Power applied.

        All countries have the same powers.

        This is what happens if you P*** off parliament for long enough. let's see how many FB execs take foreign trips in the coming months.

        And like all good FBers, they'll be keeping us up to date with their travel on their public profiles...

      2. rg287

        Re: Sovereign Power applied.

        This is what happens if you P*** off parliament for long enough. let's see how many FB execs take foreign trips in the coming months.

        Foreign trips is less of an issue. Taking documents with you is the issue at hand.

        There's most likely been a slew of mail going round Facebook regarding new policies on burner laptops and not crossing borders with confidential documents.

        The Serjeant at Arms could not have compelled Ted Kramer to hand over documents he didn't have.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Sovereign Power applied.

          "The Serjeant at Arms could not have compelled Ted Kramer to hand over documents he didn't have."

          Oh he really could, if he had reason to believe that Kramer had access to them, including online.

          "Give us the documents."

          "No, they are stored on a foreign server somewhere, under seal by US law."

          "Here is Pentonville Prison. Have fun inside until you change your mind."

          1. Spazturtle Silver badge

            Re: Sovereign Power applied.

            ""The Serjeant at Arms could not have compelled Ted Kramer to hand over documents he didn't have."

            Oh he really could, if he had reason to believe that Kramer had access to them, including online."

            If he has ever seen the documents he could be ordered to write them down from memory. Saying he can't remember the contents would not be a valid defense.

            There is a guy who has been held for a few years now because he forgot the password to an encrypted hard drive. Judges will find a way to fuck you up if you refuse to do what they have ordered you to do.

          2. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Sovereign Power applied.

            Concur, except it's not civil servants, it's not UK laws, and it's not the UK government. It's parliament which constitutionally is above all of those things and ad hoc can create any powers it wishes, whether appropriate or inappropriate. One of the benefits (along with the detriments) derived from not having a post-civil war written constitution.

            The UK Constitution is written, and it was also post civil war, though of course it was post the English civil war and the Glorious Revolution that followed it, not post the American civil war.

            I think you meant that the UK constitution is "uncodified" as in there aren't any documents saying "this is an important constitutional document that you can't alter", other than the important constitutional documents that do in fact say that, and provide "interesting" remedies such as absolving citizens of their allegiance.

            I suppose that technically Parliament could write a law saying that they have the right to do something incredibly objectionable, however they have to get the House of Lords to sign it off first. They then have to get the Monarch to sign it off.

            It's a bit more balanced than you might think, the UK's constitutional arrangements are the end product of the better part of a thousand years worth of evolution without somebody deciding that the particular point they have reached is the pinnacle of possible development and trying to freeze the whole thing as it is. No doubt the UK's constitution will continue to evolve such in such a manner as is required for ongoing operation.

            The right of parliament to lock somebody up for contempt of parliament is dubious, at best. Last time the commons used it was 1666 back when the commons and the lords were the final appeal courts so it was essentially a form of contempt of court under common law. Since then the commons decided that they couldn't be assed to deal with appeals and said they wouldn't do it, and the house of lords decided that wasn't quite fair, so they'd take appeals from anybody doing so in the form used by the House of Lords, and not just from Lords etc which is how the House of Lords came to be the final arbiter of laws. Up until the EU decisions that basically forced the Law lords to set up and transfer all of the remaining powers in the Lords to the UK Supreme Court.

            As a result, nobody left in parliament (either the commons or the lords) actually have the legal authority to imprison somebody on their sayso. Any attempt to do so would be effectively be via the sovereigns "divine right" to do whatever they dammed well please, and imprisonment without trial was banned under section XXIX of the 1215 Magna Carta. Anybody causing somebody to be imprisoned without trial would find that:-

            1) The person involved would submit a writ of Habeas Corpus to any court. (or somebody might do so on their behalf, Habeas Corpus allowing for the fact that the person being imprisoned may be held incommunicado) The person is then bought before a court and the jailor is required to supply their lawful authority to hold the prisoner. The jailor would have no such lawful authority, and so the court would have to order that the prisoner be set free.

            2) At this point, having set the prisoner free this immediately proves the fact that the imprisonment they were in was unlawful, at which point the person who caused the imprisonment is by default guilty of false imprisonment, which is a felony under common law. This is a criminal offense under the Criminal Law Act 1967, which means that parliamentary privilege does not apply as it's only effective for civil cases and the MP's and any staff involved can (and would) have to stand trial for false imprisonment, and also probably malfeasance in office. As there would be no possible defense to either charge, it would be a brave MP that tried to pull that as a stunt, IMO. They'd end up in prison for an awful lot longer than the chap they imprisoned!

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Sovereign Power applied.

              "At this point, having set the prisoner free this immediately proves the fact that the imprisonment they were in was unlawful, at which point the person who caused the imprisonment is by default guilty of false imprisonment, which is a felony under common law."

              I'm not sure that that's true. (Usual 'not a lawyer' statements apply here.) False imprisonment isn't a strict liability offence. As well as actus rea you would need to show mens rea; in this case, that the person imprisoning knew that it was false. Otherwise you would be locking up people who imprisoned those who were found guilty but whose convictions were later overturned, or those that were arrested but later released without charge.

            2. Stork Bronze badge

              Re: Sovereign Power applied.

              Very interesting. How does that square with internment in N.Ireland during the troubles?

              (I love tangents)

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: Sovereign Power applied.

                I'm not sure that that's true. (Usual 'not a lawyer' statements apply here.) False imprisonment isn't a strict liability offence. As well as actus rea you would need to show mens rea; in this case, that the person imprisoning knew that it was false. Otherwise you would be locking up people who imprisoned those who were found guilty but whose convictions were later overturned, or those that were arrested but later released without charge.

                Nope. If somebody was imprisoned but found not guilty then they'd still have been imprisoned by the authority of a court under the lawful judgement of their peers.

                The police have powers of arrest, however these are limited to 48 hours without them placing a charge, and holding somebody without charge for up to 24 hours (or a max of 96 hours in case of murder, or 14 days in case of terrorism) pending investigation is legal under the police and criminal evidence act/terrorism act.

                If a court rules that you are being held in false imprisonment then firstly, your set free. The fact that you were set free from false imprisonment then proves that you were held in false imprisonment, which lets you lay criminal charges against the people holding you in false imprisonment using the previous case as established precedent for being held in false imprisonment.

                The only way for the person so charged with false imprisonment to provide a defense would be to prove they had the legal right to imprison somebody, which requires reference to a statue written by parliament, approved by the lords and signed into executive power by the sovereign. Which, notably they wouldn't have and therefore they would be unable to provide any defense. Thus, they'd be found guilty more or less immediately as there is no possible argument to make that they were acting lawfully.

                Very interesting. How does that square with internment in N.Ireland during the troubles?

                (I love tangents)

                Google knoweth all. Apparently it was allowed under the "Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922". Habeus Corpus is only a tool to produce somebody before a Judge and demand of their jailer their lawful authority to hold the person. When they have no authority then this is useful, when they do have lawful authority then it's not useful.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      "We'll ignore the fact their Senate Committees can do more or less the same thing."

      I won't ignore this. The fact that they aren't doing the same thing is a result of the overall corporate takeover of the federal government. Ignoring this only helps our descent into tyranny.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I won't ignore this. The fact that they aren't doing the same thing is a result of the overall corporate takeover of the federal government. Ignoring this only helps our descent into tyranny.

        Well, perhaps if this makes a big splash in the USA ("FB bankrupted after UK Parliament Big Reveal"), perhaps that might act as a cue to the electorate to demand more of their senators and representatives than you think they're getting.

        Though I have to say the unique nature of the US constitution does leave it wide open to this kind of thing. With no one being definitively in charge of what happens in the country, it's easy to make sure that no-one is...

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          It doesn't matter what the US constitution (and it's many, many amendments that adjust it for various lobby's purposes) reads.

          This was in the UK and despite what many US politicians may think, US laws don't apply here, UK laws do. If UK laws, even rather antiquated but occasionally useful ones, are in effect then they are usable and in this case have been. For once, UK politicians, or more likely civil servants, have done something sensible used the appropriate powers that they have in order to deal with an organisation that is treating UK laws/government with contempt. We may be a distinctly third world country (read the UN reports) however at least there is some sense remaining somewhere.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "For once, UK politicians, or more likely civil servants, have done something sensible used the appropriate powers that they have in order to deal with an organisation that is treating UK laws/government with contempt. "

            Concur, except it's not civil servants, it's not UK laws, and it's not the UK government. It's parliament which constitutionally is above all of those things and ad hoc can create any powers it wishes, whether appropriate or inappropriate. One of the benefits (along with the detriments) derived from not having a post-civil war written constitution.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            If UK laws, even rather antiquated but occasionally useful ones

            Can we still shoot Scotsmen if seen at Carlisle on a Sunday?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            More Nonsense

            I've read the UN reports and the UK is certainly not considered a third world country, I guess you read the Guardian too much. The 2018 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) doesn't list the UK among the 105 countries listed.

            http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/table_6_2018_mpi.xlsx

            Of course there are people living on the street in the UK like everywhere country in the world, that doesn't make the UK a third world country despite what comrade Corbyn would have you believe.

            I suggest you read a book called factfulness, you may learn things are not as bad as you want to believe.

  3. colinb

    Off to the tower with Zuck

    A live stream of the torture, eh sorry, interview would be nice.

    Crime is Treason, betrayal of the country and populace via mass slurpage and sellage

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

      Whilst the sentiment here is somewhat appealing, I'm not sure you could make the case for trying someone for treason who isn't a subject of the country doing it. The last time I checked, Sugarheap wasn't a British subject.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        "I'm not sure you could make the case for trying someone for treason who isn't a subject of the country doing it."

        The USA has made a habit of trying to snatch and charge people for espionage when they haven't even set foot in that country, etc etc.

        1. HolySchmoley

          Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

          "The USA has made a habit of trying to snatch and charge people for espionage when they haven't even set foot in that country, etc etc."

          Not to mention send to outsourced torture chambers...

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

            "Not to mention send to outsourced torture chambers..."

            Surely Trump should be doing something about all those exported jobs. Bring Torture Back, No More Outsourcing, MAGA!!!

      2. rg287

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        The last time I checked, Sugarheap wasn't a British subject.

        Indeed, just as Assange is not a US citizen. Not that that's stopped a couple of US Congress-critters accusing him of "Treason". Which tells you a lot about the standard of political discourse over there. American's can't commit treason against the UK, Australians can't commit treason against the US!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

          Australians can't commit treason against the US!

          Pretty sure the Ozzies can commit treason against the US.

          Isn't Australia just a snivelling wanna-be US state nowadays?

          1. I don't know any "Spartacus", my Lord

            Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

            "Isn't Australia just a snivelling wanna-be US state nowadays?"

            That sounds a little bitter - did you find out what they actually put in your Fosters?

            <Almost-Pun intended>

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

              "Isn't Australia just a snivelling wanna-be US state nowadays?"

              That sounds a little bitter - did you find out what they actually put in your Fosters?

              Nah. Just sick of pesky neighbours..

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        "Whilst the sentiment here is somewhat appealing, I'm not sure you could make the case for trying someone for treason who isn't a subject of the country doing it."

        Any person in the UK at the time of their act falls under the statute.

      4. TDog

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        Strange - I thought Edith Cavell was a British citizen, along with many others. I thought that the Germans spies we shot in WW2 and WW1 were German citizens. I must have been mistaken.

        Or citizenship does not trump locality and law.

        Unless you believe in gunboat diplomacy. (Or Jenkins' ear.)

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

      I think it would be amusing as hell to strap a bungie cord to his ankles, shove him off the roof of the Tower, & put a very shallow ("Kiddie") pool at the bottom filled with angry Yorkies. He'd scream the entire way down, the screams would rile up the Yorkies to a fever pitch, the *barely* in time stop at the bottom would bonk his head into the bottom of the pool, at which point the Yorkies would get a moment to maul him. Then the cord would yank him back up, let him catch his breath, at which point the cycle repeats as he falls once more.

      Televise the event, put it on PayPerView to make some *serious* money, & let the world watch as Zuck gets questioned between each shove off the roof.

      "Mister Zuckerberg, did you authorize the debaucle?"

      I don't know what- *Shove* AAAAIIIIIEEEEE!

      *Yorkie mauling*

      "Once more. Did you authorize the debaucle?"

      I *sob* have no idea *sob* what yo- *SHOVE* AAAAIIIIIEEEE!

      (A digital counter to one side shows the current PPV total cash in the coffers; a second line shows the number of billions of "Likes" for the event.)

      "Hmm... it seems we've paid off the national debt five times over. We should have thought of this sooner!"

      *Cough*

      1. Huw D

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        Why Yorkies? Why not Lancastrians? ;)

        1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          At Huw D, re: Yorkies.

          Because I needed a short legged breed that yaps constantly & drives people insane. I can never remember how to spell Chihuahuahuahuahu*slap* or Dachsundundundun*smack* so I picked Yorkie instead.

          I could have picked TeaCup Poodles instead, but I'm not *that* Evil. (Doctor Evil pinkie gesture) =-D

          1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: At Huw D, re: Yorkies.

            "Chihuahuahuahuahu*slap* or Dachsundundundun*smack* so I picked Yorkie instead."

            Could you at least stop slapping the small dogs? Yorkie is an exception though - slap that one all you like.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: At Huw D, re: Yorkies.

            yaps constantly & drives people insane

            Oh - you mean children?

            I suspect that Social Services would look dimply on them being exposed to toxins like El Zuck.

            (And why not cats eh? Attach feathers and wool strands to El Zuck (and rub him with fresh tuna) and fill the pool with 8-month old kittens. Maybe not so much damage overall but better PPV income from the Cuteness Factor..)

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

          Why Yorkies? Why not Lancastrians? ;)

          Wrong side of the Pennines.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge
        Go

        @Shadow Systems -- Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        Just please make sure that it is broadcast at a time when those of us in the Colonies can watch...I'll gladly pay for that spectacle.

        1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          At Someone Else, re: the broadcast.

          No worries, it'll be on Youtube soon enough! =-D

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: At Someone Else, re: the broadcast.

            No worries, it'll be on Youtube soon enough! =-D

            No worries, it'll be on FACEBOOK soon enough! =-D

            Fixed it for you.

      3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        "Televise the event, put it on PayPerView to make some *serious* money, "

        Pfft, why would I pay to watch that when I can just watch someones FB livestream?

        1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          At Clunking Fist, re: PPV.

          Why would you pay to watch? You don't have to, the stream would be free from too many sources to stop. But by using the PPV stream & sending them your money in gratitude, might just prompt them to do the same thing with other public figures in dire need of a Yorkie mauling. The heads of AT&T, BT, Capita, Comcast, Dixons, Equifax, France (just because he's French, that's why!), Orange, TalkTalk, Verizon, Virgin, etc etc etc... Wouldn't you PAY to see them shoved off a roof & Bungied into a shallow pool of slobbering, slathering, rabbid, insane (redundant), hungry puppies?

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        filled with angry Yorkies

        One of those words is superfluous and it isn't "Yorkie"..

        For true values of paranoia and violence, replace the Yorkies with Dachsunds (minitures - the standards are much more laid back).

      5. Kiwi

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        Televise the event, put it on PayPerView to make some *serious* money, & let the world watch as Zuck gets questioned between each shove off the roof.

        Suggestions.

        1) Make it cheap, so even the poorer people can get to see it and enjoy.

        2) For 1c/person/vote, also have the execs from MS, Google, Apple and various other nefarious types up there. You get to vote who gets pushed next.

        3) You may also get to vote on the contents of the pool.

        4) For $10/person/vote, you get to vote on the length of the rope......

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

      Well, the person compelled did not resist. Damn American spoilsports.

      Did they explain to him that if the Parliament decides to put their words into actions they can confine him ONLY in the Tower of London and that bit also happens to be a museum nowdays. That is what the relevant law dating back to the 17th century says if memory serves me right.

      So while possible in theory, in practice that is not likely to happen.

      What a pity though. Imagine it did happen. That would have been a Christmas trip to behold. Going to the London Dungeon to see a new exhibit: Social Marketeer. Extra pay for two daily attractions when "tools of the trade" are applied.

      Bummer... Oh well... there is always a next time.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

        The Tower still has working* dungeons.

        *The floor, walls and roof remain unbroken thick stone. However, feeding and toilet facilities don't meet current standards.

        1. rg287
          Headmaster

          Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

          The Tower still has working* dungeons.

          *Pedant alert*

          The Tower doesn't have any dungeons and never has (as the Beefeaters will remind you. Repeatedly). It's a Royal Palace, not a Prison.

          Only nobles were ever "accommodated" there at the Crown's pleasure. Standards of accommodation of course may not meet modern expectations.

          1. TDog

            Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

            And a bunch of commoners. And German spies. (Executed there in both world wars).

          2. The First Dave

            Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

            I seem to recall hearing that at least one of the Kray brothers spent a night or two in the cells there?

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