LIKE A DOG WITH A BONE, UK MPs aren't letting Facebook go when it comes to probing the social network's privacy and data debacles.
Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Select Committee chair Damian Collins, who seems to have a stonk-on for privacy and Facebook's breach of it, has penned a letter to former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who's now head of comms at Facebook, asking for the company to explain discrepancies in the evidence it supplied MPs over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
Collins noted that while Facebook has said it became aware of the misuse of data by Cambridge Analytical in December 2015, US watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission said the social network had known about it three months earlier.
According to the SEC, which fined Facebook $100m for misleading disclosure over the handling of data during the scandal, Facebook workers raised concerns to bosses in September 2015 that there was some "possible scraping" of user data.
However, Facebook' chief technical officer, Mike Schroepfer told Select Committee MPs that Facebook big wigs only found out about the data scraping through a report by The Guardian in December 2015.
"We therefore request a response on whether the SCE Complaint is accurate that employees did raise concerns about Cambridge Analytica before December 2015 and how these discrepancies in evidence have occurred," Collins' letter said. "We also ask for clarity regarding the timeline of Facebook employees' awareness of both Cambridge Analytica and GSR's activity and data misuse."
But that's just one snippet of the letter. Collins and pals want to know why no action was taken to tackle the data scraping until 2018; the letter notes the data might not have been deleted until March 2018. This is in spite of Schroepfer saying the data harvesting and its use by Cambridge Analytica was enough to prompt a serious chat between him and Mark Zuckerberg.
"We therefore request that you respond to our concerns as to why senior management, including Mark Zuckerberg, were not informed about these incidents until they were reported in the press," the letter to Clegg said. "We believe this to be particularly egregious given that we have been told that these issues should have been reported through senior management and that the buck ultimately stops with Mr Zuckerberg himself."
Those are some strong words from Collins. But A Facebook spokesperson told us the whole thing is similar to a story reported in March that Facebook staff had flagged the data scraping earlier than first thought, and we were furnished with the statement Facebook provided at the time.
"In September 2015, employees heard speculation that Cambridge Analytica was scraping data, something that is unfortunately common for any internet service," Facebook said.
"Facebook was not aware of the transfer of data from Kogan/GSR to Cambridge Analytica until December 2015.
"When Facebook learned about Kogan's breach of Facebook's data use policies, we took action."
But the spokesperson did say Facebook will respond to the Collins' letter in due course.
Given Zuck has snubbed appearing in front of UK MPs before, we'd not hold our breath that Collins and the Select Committee will get all the answer they are after handed on a silver platter. µ
Hype for HyperThreading
Hey kids, leave them iPhones alone
The Mac lady sings
Babel in yo ear