U.K. Parliament Is Threatening Mark Zuckerberg With a Summons If He Won’t Testify Voluntarily

Facebook left dozens of questions unanswered about data usage

In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned for 10 hours by members of the U.S. Congress. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

British Parliament is threatening to force Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear for questioning about the company’s data practices.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Support Committee issued a letter today to Facebook U.K.’s head of public policy, explaining that unless Zuckerberg agrees to meet with British lawmakers voluntarily, they could issue a formal summons the next time he enters the country.

While Zuckerberg agreed to sit for two days and answer questions from both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, he has refused to do the same in the U.K., the home country of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm associated with Facebook’s recent privacy controversy. Instead, Facebook sent CTO Mike Schroepfer to answer questions last month. However, the British officials say he left dozens of questions unanswered, reigniting their interest in meeting with Facebook’s leader face-to-face.

“It is worth noting that, while Mr. Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the U.K. Parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country,” according to the letter, written by British MP Damian Collins. “We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the U.K.”

Facebook U.K. declined to comment about the possible summons.

In its letter, U.K. Parliament asked Facebook to provide follow-up answers to questions such as the percentage of websites on which Facebook tracks users, whether the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency used Facebook custom audience targeting and how Facebook defines political ads on its platform. Answers are due May 11.

The letter comes on the same day Facebook begins its annual F8 developer conference, when hundreds of developers from around the world will convene in San Jose, Calif., today and tomorrow to hear Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives provide product announcements and updates. While last year featured Facebook teasing out ambitious technology that lets people type with their brain and hear with their skin, this F8 2018 is expected to be toned down as Facebook struggles to regain control of its brand image. However, it’s still expected to update its Oculus virtual reality initiatives, following last year’s debut of its social VR platform Facebook Spaces.

Despite a tumultuous spring, Facebook reported strong first-quarter earnings last week, offering investors a brighter moment after losing as much as $100 billion in value since mid-March.

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.