Tag Archives: Lawmakers
BERLIN (Reuters) – German lawmakers will question a senior Facebook Inc manager about data privacy in the wake of revelations that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
Lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house of parliament will grill Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, during a closed-door session on Friday morning.
The meeting mirrors the appearance of Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg before a U.S. Congressional joint hearing on April 10-11 over the scandal engulfing the world’s largest social network.
The 87 million Facebook users affected included nearly three million Europeans and Zuckerberg is also under pressure from EU lawmakers to come to Europe to shed light on the data breach.
“Facebook needs to show more openness and transparency when dealing with user data,” said Nadine Schoen, deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc in the Bundestag.
She said Facebook needed to do more than just pay lip service and it remained to be seen how serious the company was about really improving user rights.
“It is not enough to exchange the gray T-shirt and jeans for suit and tie,” she said in reference to Zuckerberg’s appearance in the U.S. Congress.
The senior lawmaker said that Facebook so far was giving the impression that it only wanted to save its business model.
“For example, the company is already rowing back in the supposedly world-wide announced implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation,” Schoen warned, referring to privacy rules that will enter force in the European Union next month.
“We no longer need excuses, but facts,” she said.
German Justice Minister Katarina Barley last month summoned executives of the firm, including European public affairs chief Richard Allan.
Misuse of data by Facebook means it will in future be bound by stricter regulations and the threat of tougher penalties for further privacy violations, Barley said after the meeting.
Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Douglas Busvine
LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers on Monday published evidence that Brexit campaign group Leave.EU benefited from work by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy at the center of a recent storm over use of Facebook data.
Nigel Oakes, founder of SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, said the consultancy was lined up to do work with Leave.EU in the event that it was designated as the official campaign to leave the European Union, according to transcripts of interviews published by a parliamentary committee.
Oakes said that “there was no contract and no money” but that they did do work to demonstrate their capabilities. A transcript of another interview with Leave.EU official Andy Wigmore says the campaign group copied Cambridge Analytica’s methods.
“Leave.EU benefited from their work with Cambridge Analytica before the decision was made on which Leave campaign would receive the official designation for the referendum,” Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said in a statement.
Cambridge Analytica lies at the center of a storm for using data obtained from millions of Facebook users without their permission after it was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.
The analytics firm is also under scrutiny over campaigning for the 2016 referendum when Britons voted to leave the European Union, a move seen by critics as a colossal historical mistake but by admirers as a vital reassertion of British sovereignty.
Oakes said Wigmore’s claim to have copied Cambridge Analytica’s techniques raised “more questions about how Leave.EU developed their database to do this, and whether consumer data from other companies they had a relationship was used to support their campaign.”
The interview transcripts were submitted by Emma Briant, an academic who interviewed figures from SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU.
In the event, “Vote Leave” beat Leave.EU to become the officially designated campaign to leave the EU ahead of Britain’s referendum, though Leave.EU continued to campaign for Brexit.
Leave.EU founder Arron Banks has said that because it did not win the designation and due to concerns about the consultancy, it did no work with Cambridge Analytica, and received no benefit in kind.
Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix told the committee in February that the firm did not work with Leave.EU, but he has been recalled for a new hearing, which will take place on Wednesday.
The lawmakers were also critical of Wigmore and Oakes for speaking in admiring terms about Nazi propaganda techniques, and said there were also questions about Cambridge Analytica’s closeness with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
“The propaganda machine of the Nazis, for instance – you take away all the hideous horror and that kind of stuff – it was very clever, the way they managed to do what they did,” Wigmore said, according to one interview transcript.
Collins said that the “extreme messaging” around immigration during the campaign meant “these statements will raise concerns that data analytics was used to target voters who were concerned about this issue, and to frighten them with messaging designed to create ‘an artificial enemy’ for them to act against.”
Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by William Maclean
WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s apology for how his company handled 50 million users’ data did little on Thursday to ease investor worries about the cost to fix mistakes and lawmakers’ dismay that his response did not go far enough.
Germany’s second-largest bank Commerzbank AG has suspended advertising on Facebook until further notice, Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Thursday, following in the steps of Mozilla, which runs the Firefox web browser.
Allegations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to build profiles on American voters and influence the 2016 presidential election has knocked more than $ 50 billion of Facebook’s market value this week.
Five days after the scandal broke, Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday that mistakes were made and promised to restrict developers’ access to user information as part of a plan to improve privacy protection.
On Thursday, Facebook executives were still saying sorry. “It was a mistake”, Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said at The Financial Times FT Future of News Conference in New York City.
Zuckerberg’s apology and promises were not enough to ease political pressure on the world’s largest social media company.
“It shouldn’t be for a company to decide what is the appropriate balance between privacy and innovation and use of data. Those rules should be set by society as a whole and so by parliament,” British minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, told BBC Radio. “The big tech companies need to abide by the law and we’re strengthening the law.”
In Washington, Zuckerberg’s media rounds did little to satisfy lawmakers in either political party who have demanded this week that the billionaire testify before Congress.
Facebook executives were expected to brief two congressional committees on Thursday, after being grilled for nearly two hours by staff for the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman and other executives were unable to answer many questions at Wednesday’s meeting, according to two aides who were present. The executives said they had written down a list of 60 questions they promised to answer, the aides said.
The Republican chairman and top Democrat of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee said they will in coming days formally ask Zuckerberg to testify.
Wall Street analysts expressed relief that there were no signs so far of a more fundamental shift in the company’s advertising-driven revenue model, but some said there would be costs to shore up its reputation.
Facebook, with more than 2 billion monthly active users, made almost all its $ 40.6 billion in revenue last year from advertising.
Stifel analyst Scott Devitt cut his price target on Facebook by $ 27 to $ 168, while BofA Merrill Lynch slashed its target by $ 35 to $ 230.
“Facebook’s current plight reminds us of eBay in 2004 – an unstructured content business built on trust that lost that trust prior to implementing policies to add structure and process,” Devitt said.
“Warren Buffett has his own thing called a “too hard” pile, and we are choosing to put Facebook shares in it,” he wrote.
Facebook shares were down 2.2 percent on Thursday in heavy trading.
Analysts said that Zuckerberg’s promises to investigate thousands of apps, and to give members a tool that lets them turn off access, would not substantially reduce advertisers’ ability to use Facebook data – the company’s lifeblood.
Nevertheless, open-source browser and app developer Mozilla said it was “pressing pause” on its Facebook advertising after the revelations prompted it to take a closer look at the site’s default privacy settings.
“We found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data – particularly with respect to settings for third party apps,” Mozilla, it said in a blog post.
“When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.”
Commerzbank said it, too, was pausing its campaign on Facebook. “Brand safety and data security are very important to us,” head of brand strategy Uwe Hellmann told Handelsblatt. The comments were confirmed by a spokesman for the bank.
The Times newspaper reported that British advertising group ISBA, which represents thousands of well-known brands, has threatened to withdraw ads if investigations show user data has been misused.
“We think this issue is more likely to snowball than recede and that advertisers are reaching a tipping point at which spending on not only Facebook and other online platforms, is re-evaluated,” brokerage Liberum said in a note.
Technology stocks have fallen along with Facebook this week as investors worried about tighter scrutiny of global platforms like Google, Twitter and Snapchat.
British police removed cordons around the London headquarters of Cambridge Analytica on Thursday after they deemed a suspicious package which sparked a security alert to be safe.
Efforts by Britain’s information watchdog to investigate Cambridge Analytica were delayed when a judge adjourned for 24 hours its application to search the company’s head office.
Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Paul Sandle; Editing by Nick Zieminski