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Zuckerberg turns down call for data privacy grilling

California, Tuesday

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg today turned down a request by British lawmakers to appear before them to respond to concerns about data privacy as the European Union set a deadline for the US social media giant to respond to its own questions.

Zuckerberg instead offered to send one of his deputies as the US company comes under new pressure from the EU to disclose more details about how up to 50 million users’ data are alleged to have been taken from Facebook and used in political campaigns.

In a letter to the British parliament’s digital, culture and media committee, Rebecca Stimson, head of public policy for Facebook UK, said the company “fully recognises the level of public and parliamentary interest in these issues”.

But committee chair Damian Collins renewed his demand to interview Zuckerberg saying the seriousness of the allegations meant it was “appropriate” for the tech tycoon to offer an explanation himself, whether in person or via video-link.

In the letter published by the British committee today, Facebook offered to send chief technology office Mike Schroepfer or chief product officer Chris Cox to London next month to provide answers. “We’d be very happy to invite Mr Cox to give evidence.

However, we would still like to hear from Mr Zuckerberg as well,” Collins said at the start of a committee hearing today. “We will seek to clarify with Facebook whether he is available to give evidence or not, because that wasn’t clear from our correspondence.

“And if he is available to give evidence, then we would be happy to do that either in person or via video link if that would be convenient for him.”

The EU meanwhile has given the social media giant two weeks to answer its own queries over the scandal, which has heavily hit Facebook’s share price and raised major questions over how social media companies use private data. — AFP

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