Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg may soon be held in contempt – not of any court – but of a parliament, as they refused the invitation of the Canadian Parliament to attend a hearing in Ottawa.
Facebook will send representatives on behalf of the two top executives.
The parliamentary hearing to be held in Ottawa later this week is an important gathering of an international committee examining Silicon Valley's impact on privacy and democracy. The event will be attended by lawmakers from at least ten countries including the United Kingdom and Australia. The first meeting of such kind was held in London last year and has produced the secret internal Facebook documents.
Both Zuckerberg and Sandberg have recently testified on the subject matter before the US Congress. Both of them received formal requests from the Canadian Parliament and both of them declined the request. Instead, Facebook is sending Kevin Chan, head of public policy for Facebook Canada and Neil Potts, director of public policy to represent Zuckerberg and Sandberg.
According to CNN, Zuckerberg and Sandberg's decision not to attend the hearing could hold them in contempt of parliament. Bob Zimmer MP, the chair of the Canadian parliamentary committee hosting the hearing said that although Facebook has submitted alternate names to represent Zuckerberg and Sandberg, he wants to hear directly from the two top executives. Zimmer told CNN that knowing the structure of Facebook and how it is micro-managed right from the top, any change on the platform is done through them:
“Collectively we represent about 450 million people, it's a bigger population group than the US,” Zimmer, whose committee is hosting the international meeting, told CNN Monday.
Additionally, Zimmer said that the decision to hold the two Facebook executives in contempt of the parliament will still be voted upon the members of the Parliament. If approved, it won't be good for Facebook as a social platform to be held in contempt of the Parliament.
Responding to the Canadian Parliament's probable action towards their top executives, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company shares the parliament's desire to keep people safe and to hold companies like Facebook accountable. And that Facebook is currently focused on engaging in meaningful discussions with the parliament.