Culture Secretary Matt Hancock is to meet Facebook next Wednesday and will “seek further assurances that UK users’ data won’t be misused in future”, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said.
Hancock said yesterday: “I’ll be meeting Facebook next week.
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“I expect it to explain why they put the data of more than a million of our citizens at risk. This is completely unacceptable, and they must demonstrate this won’t happen again.”
The department said yesterday that Hancock had also spoken to Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham to ensure that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigation of Cambridge Analytica was “forging ahead”.
The moves came after Facebook said that the data of more than a million UK Facebook users could have had been improperly harvested by Cambridge Analytica (CA).
The social media giant said the data of a total of 87m users may have been shared with CA – and that 1,079,031 of those people were from the UK.
The majority of users whose information might have been shared with CA were from the United States, followed by the Philippines and Indonesia, Facebook said.
Meanwhile, Denham said she was now investigating a total of 30 organisations, including Facebook.
“As part of my investigation into the use of personal data and analytics by political campaigns, parties, social media companies and other commercial actors, the ICO is investigating 30 organisations, including Facebook,” she said in a statement.
“The ICO is looking at how data was collected from a third party app on Facebook and shared with Cambridge Analytica. We are also conducting a broader investigation into how social media platforms were used in political campaigning.
“Facebook has been co-operating with us and, while I am pleased with the changes they are making, it is too early to say whether they are sufficient under the law.
“This is an important time for privacy rights. Transparency and accountability must be considered, otherwise it will be impossible to rebuild trust in the way that personal information is obtained, used and shared online.
“This is why, besides my investigation, which could result in enforcement action, I will also be making clear public policy recommendations to help us understand how our personal data is used online and what we can do to control how it’s used.”
In another development last night, Damian Collins, Conservative chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, would appear before the committee in April.
Asked if he was confident a Facebook representative would appear before MPs, Collins told Channel 4 News: “The chief technology officer of Facebook will be giving evidence and he’ll be coming to London on April 26 to do that.
“He’s the most senior figure that’s ever given evidence to Parliament before from Facebook, so we’re pleased to take his evidence but I think actually this is an issue about trust in the company and trust in Mark Zuckerberg – who is its beating heart.”
Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay