Facebook accused of lying to UK lawmakers over privacy scandals

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The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, that came to light in March 2018, continues to this day.

In the UK, members of parliament (MPs) are questioning the timeline of revelations of the possible misuse of data, and actions taken by Facebook.

Cambridge Analytica is a British data mining, analyzing and brokering firm that started as an offshoot of SCL Group, a government and military contractor.

Cambridge Analytica's notoriety stems from getting its hands on data from 50 million Facebook users without their consent to then use it for targeted marketing – and from having Donald Trump's 2016 campaign as one of its clients, as well as that of US Senator Ted Cruz.

Now that the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) fined Facebook $100 million for its role in the scandal – some of the information revealed in the Commission's case is what prompted British MPs to react.

Facebook earlier told Parliament that it found out about Cambridge Analytica's data misuse in December 2015, but the SEC complaint suggests the company knew about it earlier, in September.

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UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee Chair Damian Collins has penned a letter to Nick Clegg – a former British deputy PM, who is now Facebook's vice-president of global affairs.

Collins wants answers about “who at Facebook knew what when about Cambridge Analytica's activities,” and notes that Facebook's representatives had told the British Parliament they only found out about the scandal in December 2015 – a timeline that now appears not to have been correct.

The letter also asks why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg only became aware of potential problems regarding Cambridge Analytica's behavior last year, if his employees warned about it as early as 2015. And Collins would like to know if the information contained in the SEC case was accurate.

Announcing his letter and queries on Twitter, Collins also made sure to include a hashtag referencing a Netflix documentary called The Great Hack, which the BBC said “raises questions about Cambridge Analytica's role in President Trump's election” and also about the way the company advised a pro-Brexit group.

Meanwhile, Collins' invitation to Zuckerberg to appear before the UK Parliament, where the Facebook CEO is a no-show, seems to still stand.

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]