MANILA, Philippines – The British Parliament seized internal Facebook documents from the CEO of a US app developer engaged in a legal dispute with Facebook, The Guardian reported Saturday, November 24 (November 25, Manila time).
Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) committee, invoked a rarely-used parliamentary mechanism to get the CEO and founder of Six4Three to hand over the documents while he was in London on business.
Facebook sought to keep those court documents shielded, but when the SIx4Three founder was in London, he was given an order by a Parliamentary Serjeant at Arms to hand the documents over. After the CEO failed to do this, he was “escorted to parliament,” and was told he could be fined or jailed for not handing over the documents, leading him to eventually relinquish them.
The documents the Six4Three CEO had were from the discovery process of their lawsuit against Facebook and may hold information pertaining to internal decisions of the social network that may have led to the Cambridge Analytica data breach.
They are said to include emails between senior Facebook staff – including CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s emails – and expressed the decisions of senior staff made prior to the breach, as well as what Facebook higher-ups knew about the company’s privacy policies.
The British Parliament has repeatedly tried to get Zuckerberg to testify about the Cambridge Analytica data breach, though it has not been able to do so. The UK has also fined Facebook for breaching data protection laws.
Calling their move to acquire the documents “uncharted territory,” Collins said, “This is an unprecedented move but it’s an unprecedented situation. We’ve failed to get answers from Facebook and we believe the documents contain information of very high public interest.”
Facebook said in a statement, “The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure. We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook.”
To this, minister of parliament Ian Lucas tweeted, “Too late.”
Facebook said: “The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure. We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook.” Too late.— Ian Lucas MP (@IanCLucas) November 25, 2018