Zuckerberg to meet EU officials – dodging public grilling

BRUSSELS — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to speak with leaders of the European parliament next week about the data protection scandal that has engulfed his company — but might avoid a public testimony like the one he endured in the U.S.

The EU and British parliaments have been calling for Zuckerberg to submit to an on-air grilling since it emerged earlier this year that a company, political consultants Cambridge Analytica, had been allowed to misuse the data of millions of Facebook users.

While Zuckerberg testified last month to the U.S. Congress, he had long been noncommittal on his appearance in Europe, sending his chief technical officer to speak to the British parliament and delaying confirmation of any visit to Brussels.

On Wednesday, EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani confirmed that Zuckerberg “will be in Brussels as soon as possible, hopefully already next week” and would meet with parliamentary leaders and an expert on civil liberties and justice.

That suggests he will avoid an uncomfortable public appearance and instead meet only with the legislature’s top brass behind closed doors.

Facebook came away largely unscathed from Zuckerberg’s testimony to the U.S. Congress in April. Shares in the company even rose after his appearance. And several of the U.S. lawmakers often appeared to fail to grasp the technical details of Facebook’s operations and data privacy.

He might get tougher questions in Brussels, where an assertive new European data protection law comes into effect on May 25. The law will give Facebook’s millions of European users more control over what companies can do with what they post, search and click.

Yet the question of whether Zuckerberg should explain himself publicly remains a point of contention.

The president of the ALDE liberal group, Guy Verhofstadt already said he would not attend the meeting if it was behind closed doors. “It must be a public hearing – why not a Facebook Live,” he asked in a Tweet.

Tajani said that simply showing up to explain himself was already a good move. “It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence,” he said. “Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation.”

On Monday, Zuckerberg will also attend a meeting organized by French President Emmanuel Macron aimed at pressuring tech giants to use their global influence for public good.

Zuckerberg’s EU visit will be his first since a whistleblower alleged that Cambridge Analytica improperly harvested information from over 50 million Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election. Cambridge says none of the Facebook data was used in the Trump campaign, and Facebook is investigating.

Damian Collins, the head of the U.K. parliament’s media committee, has said he hopes Zuckerberg would take advantage of his trip to Europe next week to visit London and testify there as well.

Zuckerberg has so far declined to appear, to the British lawmakers’ annoyance. Collins warned Zuckerberg last month that if he does not come voluntarily, he could be issued a formal summons, which would force him to appear before the parliament when he next enters the U.K.

Just Posted

Fire investigators comb through industrial fire wreckage looking for answers

Industrial building in north Red Deer was completely gutted in Wednesday morning fire

Time for a central Albertan in cabinet, says chamber of commerce

Central Alberta had no cabinet ministers in last government

Trump Russia probe finally delivers some answers

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some… Continue reading

Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline extended

OTTAWA — The federal government is delaying a decision on the Trans… Continue reading

WATCH video of Innisfail resident creating the world’s biggest caricature

Watch as Innisfail resident Dean Foster creates the world’s biggest caricature of… Continue reading

Lower price discounts to boost Q1 oil profits but uncertainty hangs over sector

CALGARY — Lower discounts on western Canadian oil prices have swollen producer… Continue reading

Local Sports: Hard training pays off for Red Deer runner Jared Howse

Jared Howse understands success doesn’t come easily. The 17-year-old has put together… Continue reading

CRA’s automatic benefit registrations give retirees reason to file on time

TORONTO — This is the time of year when procrastinators begin to… Continue reading

Study: Genetic test predicts middle-aged obesity risk

NEW YORK — Can a genetic test identify newborns at risk of… Continue reading

Downtown Red Deer Co-op Plaza Food store closing

Central Alberta Co-op is closing its downtown Red Deer Plaza food store… Continue reading

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Most Read