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Zuckerberg to testify before House panel on data security lapses

  • Billy House and Steven T. Dennis

    Bloomberg

Washington   /   Wed, April 4, 2018   /   08:21 pm
Zuckerberg to testify before House panel on data security lapses Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the F8 summit in San Francisco, California, on March 25, 2015. Facebook shares plunged March 19, 2018 as the social media giant was pounded by criticism at home and abroad over revelations that a firm working for Donald Trump's presidential campaign harvested and misused data on 50 million members. (AFP/Josh Edelson)

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, the chairman and top Democrat on that committee announced Wednesday.

“This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online," said Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon, in a joint statement with ranking panel Democrat Frank Pallone of New Jersey.

"We appreciate Mr. Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee, and we look forward to him answering our questions on April 11th," they said.

Other congressional committees also are looking to hear from Facebook executives. Senate Judiciary Committee staff members did not immediately respond to Wednesday to whether Zuckerberg has agreed to a date to appear before that panel.

Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder as well as chairman, has faced intense criticism from lawmakers in both parties after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a company working for Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, harvested data from 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

The social network’s chief executive officer, who has never testified before Congress, decided last week that he would need to do so now, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Facebook shares have been hit by the reports, which prompted some people to delete their accounts and others to call for regulating social networks. The company also faces continued scrutiny over its failure to prevent exploitation of its network by Russians using fake news and fake accounts.

The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Facebook’s privacy policies.

Zuckerberg has written Facebook posts and done several news interviews -- a rare move for him -- promising to do better in the future, but a hearing where he’ll be grilled by lawmakers raises the stakes considerably.

Lower-level Facebook executives have briefed staff behind closed doors but lawmakers have complained they couldn’t answer all of their questions.

Public hearings last year on Russian use of social media featured top lawyers from Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google but they, too, failed to satisfy a number of senators. The lawmakers said CEOs and decision-makers, not their lawyers, should be held to account for letting their networks be abused and for saying what they will do to prevent a recurrence.