Members of the British Parliament were not satisfied when a recent request to interview Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was met with an offer of either of two deputy officials instead.
While the social media giant has come under intense fire in the U.S. for reports about improper use of user data during the 2016 presidential election, the apparent data breach also impacted a certain number of users in Britain and across Europe.
In total, tens of millions of users are believed to have had their personal information leaked to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that used the information to aid then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.
According to AFP, some U.K. lawmakers bristled Tuesday in response to indications that Zuckerberg would not be available for questioning.
Instead, the company reportedly offered Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer or Chief Product Officer Chris Cox to appear before the House of Commons as early as next month.
That response was not sufficient for Digital, Culture and Media Committee Chairman Damian Collins, who said it would be “appropriate” given the gravity of the situation for the chief executive to appear in person.
“We’d be happy to invite Mr. Cox to give evidence,” he said. “However, we would still like to hear from Mr. Zuckerberg as well.”
Collins said members are also seeking to “clarify with Facebook whether he is available to give evidence or not, because that wasn’t clear from our correspondence.”
Zuckerberg would not need to travel to the U.K. for questioning, Collins said, explaining that “he could do that either in person or via video link if that would be more convenient for him.”
Facebook U.K. administrator Rebecca Stimson responded to the request in her letter to the committee.
As for the impact of the latest data leak, she wrote that the company “can now confirm that around one percent of the global downloads of the app came from users in the E.U., including the U.K.”
Stimson went on to write that the company “fully recognizes the level of public and parliamentary interest in these issues” and believes that they must be “addressed at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position to answer your questions.”
In this case, the company apparently concluded the most senior officials knowledgeable enough to answer the questions were Schroepfer and Cox.
Zuckerberg himself signaled a similar caveat when responding in a recent interview to mounting pressure for him to testify before U.S. lawmakers on three congressional committees.
“So, the short answer is I’m happy to, if it’s the right thing to do,” he said last week. “Facebook testifies in Congress regularly on a number of topics, some high profile and some not.”
The company’s objective, he claimed, “is always to provide Congress, who does an extremely important job, to have the most information that they can.”
The British backlash came the same day as reports indicating Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before Congress in the U.S., though it was unclear which committees he is prepared to address.
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