Mark Zuckerberg to Meet European Parliament Members Over Facebook’s Data Use
LONDON — Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, plans to meet with members of the European Parliament as early as next week, the latest stop in a wide-ranging apology tour over the social network’s use of people’s personal data.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision to travel to Brussels comes as Facebook faces a barrage of public criticism over how the data of tens of millions of its users was harvested without their consent, as well as concerns over the company’s role in elections around the entire world in addition to questions over whether the idea has moved quickly enough to remove inflammatory content.
His visit will involve a closed-door session with leaders of the European Parliament’s various blocs in addition to the head of the body’s civil liberties committee, which is usually holding hearings on Facebook’s practices, as well as a stop in Paris, where Mr. Zuckerberg is usually set to have lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss a range of issues.
Senior European officials in addition to lawmakers were quick to question why Mr. Zuckerberg’s meeting in Brussels would likely be private. While the Facebook chief executive had been hesitant to appear before government inquiries within the past, opting to send lawyers or senior deputies in his stead, he faced a two-day public grilling in Congress last month.
His planned appearance in Brussels highlights the breadth of the international concern over how Facebook failed to prevent political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica through obtaining in addition to using the data of many as 87 million of its users.
“Our citizens deserve a full in addition to detailed explanation,” the European Parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani, said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I welcome Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person.”
Mr. Tajani added: “the idea is usually a step within the right direction toward restoring confidence.”
A Facebook spokesman confirmed Mr. Zuckerberg’s visit in addition to said the company had accepted the legislature’s “proposal to meet with leaders of the European Parliament in addition to appreciate the opportunity for dialogue, to listen to their views in addition to show the steps we are taking to better protect people’s privacy.”
The meeting in Brussels is usually likely to take place next Tuesday or Wednesday, officials said. The proceedings will not be televised. A spokesman for Mr. Tajani said lawmakers in attendance will be able to speak freely about the idea, in addition to a verbatim transcript of the meeting will be released afterward.
The format of the meeting was the result of weeks of tense negotiations between Mr. Tajani’s office in addition to Facebook, according to Pedro López de Pablo, a spokesman for the European People’s Party, the biggest party in parliament, which endorsed Mr. Tajani’s proposed format.
Still, one European lawmaker who was invited to the meeting with Mr. Zuckerberg said he would likely not attend if the idea was not made public. “the idea must be a public hearing — why not a Facebook Live?” said Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of a liberal group within the European Parliament.
The prospect of Mr. Zuckerberg publicly testifying before the European Parliament would likely have raised the profile of an institution whose 751 members rarely make international headlines. The body does not directly regulate Facebook or different technology companies.
Yet Europe has won a reputation in recent years as the technology industry’s toughest watchdog. Officials within the region have investigated Facebook for the improper handling of customer data, fined Amazon in addition to different companies over their tax practices in addition to penalized firms like Google for antitrust violations.
The timing of Mr. Zuckerberg’s announcement, in addition to of his visit to Brussels, coincides with Europe’s introduction next week of the entire world’s most aggressive rules for protecting data privacy. Under the completely new rules, called the General Data Protection Regulation, which will be enacted on May 25, regulators within the bloc’s 28 member states will get the power to fine companies up to 4 percent of their global revenue for violations — a sum equivalent to $1.6 billion in Facebook’s case.
On Wednesday, European leaders plan to discuss data protection, the scandal involving Facebook in addition to Cambridge Analytica in addition to the impact the issue has had on elections within the region, according to Vera Jourova, the region’s justice commissioner.
“the idea shows Zuckerberg genuinely is usually worried about the effects of regulation in addition to the potential for more,” said Michael Carrier, a law professor at Rutgers University who focuses on antitrust issues in addition to intellectual property law. Mr. Carrier added that will the trip demonstrated the leading role Europe plays in regulating the tech sector.
Most concerning for Mr. Zuckerberg in addition to others in Silicon Valley, Mr. Carrier said, was a broader skepticism of the industry. “Big tech is usually under the public microscope through the left in addition to the right,” he said.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s trip to Brussels will be another stop on what has been has been a lengthy contrition tour meant to stem the public outcry over Facebook’s handling of user data. The chief executive posted a public apology on Facebook before testifying before Congress last month, accepting personal responsibility for the issue in addition to vowing to “step up.” Since then, the Silicon Valley company has begun an advertising campaign in which the idea has promised to do more to clean up the platform.
Facebook has also announced completely new privacy in addition to security settings that will give people more control over their data. This particular week, the company said the idea had suspended 0 third-party apps pending a further review of how they had handled Facebook data.
although Mr. Zuckerberg has some limits. On Monday, Facebook said the chief executive would likely not appear before a British parliamentary committee that will has repeatedly asked that will he answer questions in person. In a letter, the company said the idea was declining an invitation through the Digital, Culture, Media in addition to Sport Committee, which has criticized Facebook for responding to its inquiry into how the company handles British citizens’ data with “insufficient” evidence.
Follow Prashant S. Rao, Sheera Frenkel in addition to Milan Schreuer on Twitter: @prashantrao, @sheeraf in addition to @MilanSchreuer.
Prashant S. Rao reported through London, Sheera Frenkel through San Francisco in addition to Milan Schreuer through Brussels. Adam Satariano contributed reporting through Dublin, in addition to Elian Peltier through Paris.