back to article We need to talk, Brit Parliamentary committee tells Mark Zuckerberg

The Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has demanded Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg “appear before us to give oral evidence” in the fallout over Cambridge Analytica – while an ex-Facebooker is due to spill the beans tomorrow. After the DCMS committee chairman Conservative MP Damian Collins announced on …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Background:

    The journalist who has been working on this story for a couple of years, Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer, being interviewed by Phillip Adams today. Covers the origins of CA from a private Psy-Ops firm called SEC, through Bannon and Facebook, to today's events.

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/the-cambiridge-analytica-files/9567134

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Background:

      The above has an MP3 link.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About time

    About time every one of us wrote to our MPs to invoke the contempt of parliament statute as applied to non-MPs. It has not been invoked for centuries and it being invoked on Zuk would be a reason for a major celebration.

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: About time

      From the article:

      "There’s just one small snag. Zuck is an American citizen, meaning he can safely ignore any such summons. If a British or Commonwealth citizen, or someone living in the UK, did that, they would risk being jailed for committing contempt of Parliament."

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: About time

        Can't we send a gunboat?

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: About time

          Re: Gunboat. Yes, and destroy his Old Summer Palace. Now, where's my opium pipe?

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: About time

          We can't jail him for contempt but we could possibly hurt his business operations in the UK - though I don't know how that works legally.

          I'm amazed that our Government still allows Google to place rip-off websites above official .gov.uk sites when people search for European Health Cards and Driving Licence Renewals etc.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: About time

            I'm amazed that our Government still allows Google to place rip-off websites above official .gov.uk sites when people search for European Health Cards and Driving Licence Renewals etc.

            a) They [our Government] are useless at IT.

            b) Said rip-off website has as much chance of delivering what you are looking for as official site as they often don't work right.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: About time

              > b) Said rip-off website has as much chance of delivering what you are looking for as official site as they often don't work right.

              All they do is take 30 quid from you and enter the details you provide them into the official .gov website.

        3. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: About time

          "Can't we send a gunboat?"

          I'm sure the spooks at MI6 could borrow some stuff from Porton Down and slip it in to his coffee.

          Or see if he could fit himself in to a sports bag and close it up on himself.

        4. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: About time

          Can't we send a gunboat?

          We might if we had an operational one.

        5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: About time

          "

          Can't we send a gunboat?

          "

          Well, we could probably send a boat. The guns are on back-order.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: About time

        If a British or Commonwealth citizen, or someone living in the UK, did that, they would risk being jailed for committing contempt of Parliament."

        Start jailing the local UK directors until Zuk shows up.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: About time

          Start jailing the local UK directors until Zuk shows up.

          Or do something he cares about, like a huge fine which will sort out the national debt once and for all. Although I guess last year Facebook officially had profits of thruppence ha'penny in the UK.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: About time

            > Or do something he cares about, like a huge fine

            Get there before the US gov does then - an amused Eddie Mair on Radio 4 noted that the US fine could be up to $40,000... per user who had data misused. That adds up to a coupla Trillion dollars.

          2. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: About time

            Or do something he cares about, like a huge fine which will sort out the national debt once and for all

            Much as I like your thinking, Farcebook simply isn't big enough. Its market capitalisation is just under £500 Bn. The national debt is 4 or more times that, depending on how you count it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: About time

          Start jailing the local UK directors until Zuk shows up.

          I don't think he'd really care. He'd just have their status set to "it's complicated".

        3. robidy

          Re: About time

          Not sure how that would incentevise him to rock up.

          Perhaps a tax on UK turnover...with an annual escalator until he rocks up.

          First year payable in advance from 3rd April 2018 if he's not attended by then.

      3. iron Silver badge

        Re: About time @Captain Hogwash

        So we find him in contempt and if he ever visits the UK we arrest him as he steps off the plane, preferably in full view of the press. Just like the Yanks do to British security researchers when they visit the US.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: About time

        "Zuck is an American citizen, meaning he can safely ignore any such summons. If a British or Commonwealth citizen, or someone living in the UK, did that, they would risk being jailed for committing contempt of Parliament."

        Why not just prosecute him for non-attendance. After all, the US believes its laws apply everywhere so why shouldn't we do the same?

      5. Slx

        Re: About time

        There's no such thing as a 'Commonwealth Citizen' the organisation has no legal powers at all. It's neither a trade organisation nor a political union. It's just a symbolic organisation for former British colonies and nothing more.

        A UK resident (citizen of the UK or not) or, possibly someone resident elsewhere in the EU (until Brexit), if the UK could execute an EU arrest warrant would be under pressure, otherwise standard international rules of extradition would apply.

    2. Laura Kerr

      Re: About time

      "it being invoked on Zuk would be a reason for a major celebration."

      I can't stand the smug little git, but there's one wee problem - we can't sling him in chokey unless we get him over here in the first place. We're a bit short of gunboats these days, so unless he comes voluntarily there's not much HMG can do, other than block Facebook in the UK, which would be political suicide, or declare him persona non grata, which isn't going to worry him that much. He'll probably throw his UK minions to the wolves, though.

      1. smudge Silver badge

        Re: About time

        We're a bit short of gunboats these days, so unless he comes voluntarily there's not much HMG can do...

        "My dearest Donald,

        You know this Assange fella that many of your chappies would like to have a chinwag with? If you could, ah, see your way to persuading Zuk to pay us a visit, I'm pretty confident that we could deliver Assange to you with no more than minor transit damage. Might have to drop a sweetener to the Ecuadorians - so perhaps you could see your way to taking more of their bananas and shrimps? I'm sure that Melania (give her my love!) will know some good recipes for them.

        Regards to your boss - tell him to ignore everything I've been saying in public. Got to keep up appearances - you'll know that!

        Toodle-oo,

        Boris"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: About time

        "we can't sling him in chokey unless we get him over here in the first place"

        I'm sure we could persuade Mr Trump to do an exchange for St Julian

        We have the Ecuadorians on our side nowadays

      3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: About time

        How much more political suicide can they honestly do by this point? I am somewhat still astounded as to how none of have been rounded up before judges for how badly they've cocked up.

  3. Forget It
    Facepalm

    Free goodies any one?

    Nice big wooden horse?

    Beware of geek bearing gifts.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      So on the one hand "How dare you abuse your position and allow our Citizens' data to be used in this fashion!" to the other "How dare you refuse us unfettered access to our Citizens' data!"

      So guess what the free gift facebook is going to give the UK gov to make this go away?

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Big Brother

        As Stewart Lee said, social media is a state surveillance system run by gullible volunteers. A Stasi for the angry birds generation.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            All would seem to fit and MPs have never demonstrated much consistency - outsize a commitment to brazen lying anyway.

          2. Teiwaz Silver badge

            I still am unsure as to why MP's are angry.

            ...5. I think it's 'cause there's now a chance more leaks will reveal how the UK has been using the company and the want to investigate the US side and bury them before anything about the UK operations comes out.

          3. Mark 85 Silver badge

            I still am unsure as to why MP's are angry.

            Oh.... lots of reasons and you did a good list but there's one more...

            There's the implication and apparent evidence that Cambridge Analytics interfered big time in the US election. If they held data from FB's British users, there could be worries about your elections being tampered with from them. FB might not have a hand in election tampering but the data leak could certainly be shown, if used by a firm like CA, to sway an election.

            There might be a connection between all this and your elections.... for example Brexit.

            FTR, we should all be pissed about data theft, be it from FB, any business, and/or government. Yet, most people aren't unless it affects them personally, like the resulting bank fraud or screwing up their credit.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That's the quote of the year. What exactly's it from???

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Free goodies any one?

      Nice big wooden horse?

      Beware of geek bearing gifts.

      So who is this Helen he stole then?

      If it's 'an Royal' he can keep 'em - just seem to fill the front pages with useless soap opera trivia - the archers'd be cheaper.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right Zuk, First Question!

    Any chance we can get the same data, y'know, for "Research Purposes" on err Pedos and Terrorists (TM)

    Yours lovingly

    T.May.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right Zuk, First Question!

      We already have it :-) (anon for obvious reasons)

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Daedalus Silver badge

    Bring in the lawyers

    I think the esteemed parliamentarian will find himself dealing with the firm of Dewey, Cheetham & Howe rather than Mr Z.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Bring in the lawyers

      Indeed - the current odds of Zuk becoming the next President of those Untied States, is around 2.7% I'd expect the odds of his grinning face appearing in the Commons any time soon would be lower than that.

      The days when MPs could simply summon whomever they wished and expect obsequeous compliance are long gone. Most people have little to no respect for any MP, regardless of rosette colour, which is played for and got, in the sense that MPs ruined their own credibility and social standing.

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Meh

    The first thing the pols will want to know is whether any of THEIR particular antics have been detected/are in danger of being found by the press.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    #DeleteFacebook on Twitter, oh the irony.

    As always in cases like this it's time to follow the money. Did some of our politicians and businesses pay for their services over brexit? I'd be interested to know that one. However Facebook is working as intended. What did people think they were doing with all that data? only use it to try to sell them tat?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dr Paul Taylor

      Did some of our politicians and businesses pay for their services over brexit?

      As I said, I urge you to read the rest of Carole Cadwalladr's coverage of this story.

      here

    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Just block Facebook and prosecute anyone doing business with them in the UK.

      Sure, you wont get Zuck in jail, but the spooking of investors and the damage to the brand would be priceless...

  9. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Could someone explain

    If facegooglesoft have all this information on me that can be used to affect the way I vote, how come youtube is going through a phase of showing me an advert for 'The Prime Minister's Office of Japan' before every video? I mean it's quite interesting but I've got literally zero interest in purchasing any of their services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could someone explain

      " I mean it's quite interesting but I've got literally zero interest in purchasing any of their services."

      Yet.....but you will......one day, you will.....chip...chip....chip.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Could someone explain

      'The Prime Minister's Office of Japan'

      Is that a new anime?

  10. Russell Chapman Esq.

    Governments finally realizing they are not as in control as they thought they were

    With the likes of FB and Google having data on millions, if not billions of people, I think politicians are now realizing they are not as high and mighty as they once were. As these companies are international, they can collect data anywhere, but base operations for the use of that data where they like, out of the jurisdiction of national governments. FB and Google etc, are in fact now, supra-national bodies, you can be sure they won't be so careless about similar operations in the future. This situation is simply part of the learning phase for them. It might already be too late to stop them.

  11. Gordon Pryra

    What about a swap

    Zuk for Love?

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Given that this had lead to bad publicity on a such scale that even the Great British Public is starting to realise than FB might not be an unalloyed Good Thing it's possible that they might realise that Zuk not appearing is the sort of dickish move that they could do without.

  13. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    Data collection on voters

    While I can see why people are disconcerted about FB et al collecting data on you, and then making predictions about your voting habits, I can't quite buy the moral outrage from the politicians.

    The data dumps from the DNC and RNC both contain data that shows that *both* parties have collected quite a large (and from all accounts, quite accurate) dataset on potential voters, mainly focused on what issues are important to them. These have clearly been in existence for a few years, and have obviously been used in campaigns.

    Now, it's not tied to direct advertising, but the notion that CA/SEC (or whatever they rebrand themselves as) is doing anything that political parties don't already do is just wrong.

    Now, the politicians may want to say "only we are allowed to do detailed psychological profiling to determine how best to get elected" but then it might be obvious what their issue is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Data collection on voters

      “The data dumps from the DNC and RNC both contain data that shows that *both* parties have collected quite a large (and from all accounts, quite accurate) dataset on potential voters, mainly focused on what issues are important to them. These have clearly been in existence for a few years, and have obviously been used in campaigns.”

      Political parties have always tried to keep extensive records regarding voter intentions. Historically, this has been provided by local political party members talking to people (campaigning), however, getting this information has become harder as the number of people willing to devote time to their party has reduced and people have become busier, making this method less reliable than it has been. Step forward big data to provide the miracle solution....

      Google (who assisted the Democrats during Obama’s and Clinton campaigns) and Cambridge Analytics that appear to have “exploited” Facebook data to help the Republicans. I use “exploited” because I’m unsure if they have done anything more than use Facebook apps to hoover up friends data from Facebook in the same way that the non-political click baity quizzes and other crap do to sell advertising. I.e. is this a Facebook platform issue or just a rogue company?

      From what we have seen from security agencies, we know that anonymised metadata can be used to track individuals to a remarkably accurate level. While your FB (or other social media platform) profile may seem fairly generic, if your details can be grabbed from a friend or friend of a friend (or they’re just public...), then making maps of voting intentions may be easier than the door-to-door campaigning method and make politics even more of a “who has the most money?” game.

      The questions are:

      - is CA an isolated case or are their others?

      - is big data really the game changer in politics that is being suggested? While the marketeers say yes, they’re the ones that get paid for the magic snake oil (also see pollsters)

      - looking at the UK, did big data make a difference to either the EU referendum or the last election? I think both results were surprises, but certainly in the case of the last election, strong local efforts swung people back to Labour, although a poor Tory campaign helped too...

      - will this finally make us think more about our privacy?

  14. Mark Jan

    Just Close Your Facebook Accounts

    I just don't get the complaints from people or more recently MPs.

    You, everyone who has a facebook account are the product, or at least the biggest chunk of it.

    That's the price for being "free".

    So, just don't use or have a facebook account. Your life will be more fulfilled.

    It's pretty simple really.

    Facebook needs you more than you need facebook.

    And StartPage, duckduckgo etc are also easily substituted for Google.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Just Close Your Facebook Accounts

      > I just don't get the complaints from people or more recently MPs

      Our democratic process has been perverted. That affects all of us, not just those with a Facebook account.

      1. Mark Jan

        Re: Just Close Your Facebook Accounts

        Our democratic process has been perverted. That affects all of us, not just those with a Facebook account.

        Really? Perverted? People were sent "targeted ads" based on previous responses. Campaign leaflets are regularly posted through letterboxes during election campaigns. Marginal seats are particularly targeted and individuals targeted specifically based on previous phone, canvassing etc campaigns. How is this different?

        You can always choose a different newspaper. You can always choose to watch a different news channel. You can always choose to ignore political doorstep canvassers and you can certainly always close your facebook account.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Just Close Your Facebook Accounts

          I get your point, yet it's not quite as simple as that. Short of direct coercion, nobody can make any particular person vote one way or another - they do have free will. People in aggregate, however, don't - what crowds do is the domain of pure statistics, and is easily swayed by various means with global reach and impact. There are no means in existence guaranteed to change a person's mind; there are various means in existence guaranteed to change total votes by at least some degree - which is why "voting" is a complete illusion by the way. The so-called "democratic process" as a free manifestation of will is long dead an buried (if it ever was alive at all) with the availability of entire arsenals of tools dedicated to swaying it to the whims of the most powerful / highest bidder. Nobody wants to control media for instance because it's so spectacularly profitable as a business - but because it's a direct lever onto people's supposedly "freely cast" vote. With that in mind, I'm sure you can see how anything that enhances and focuses the effect of such tools even more is somewhat... troubling.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We need to embarass you, Brit Parliamentary committee tells Mark Zuckerberg

    To make ourselves look good.

  16. Andre Carneiro

    Cambridge Professor

    So whatever is happening to this Cambridge Professor who allegedly actually gathered the FB data in the first place?

    His name has been conspicuously absent from all this mess and he’s just as culpable (if not more so) as any of the other lot?

  17. elvisimprsntr

    PSA. FB is an open sewer and Zuck is a worm.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please find below all the data Facebook has on me...

    <!-- NULL -->

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Please find below all the data Facebook has on me...

      Sorry to break it to you, but that is only your own pointer to the data that Facebook actually has on you.

  19. File Not Found

    Worst case is that Zuck does actually appear, allowing the pompous knownothings on the Ctee to make the same fools of themselves as they usually do.

    1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "pompous knownothings on the Ctee"

      Nah, they'll have Amber Rudd, the well known tech expert, right there to insist that zuck applies the correct hashtags immediately.

  20. unwarranted triumphalism

    Zuckerberg: 'lol no'

    What makes anyone think he is going to pay attention to what some pissant talking shop in a miserable little island wants?

    UK seems to be one of those irrelevant countries that thinks its opinions mean something. Time they had another reality check.

    1. cbars

      Re: Zuckerberg: 'lol no'

      Hey! We're *on* the island, or Ireland, and those islands mood and opinions are fine. It's the weather that's miserable, half the time.

      Reality check? Last time I looked our opinions meant as much as everyone else's! Ah..... isn't The Incredibles a great film: "everybody is special? that's the same as saying no-one is"

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