Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg will be served a summons to appear before Canadian parliament the next time either of the tech executives step foot in Canada, politicians voted on Tuesday.
The vote came after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and CEO Sheryl Sandberg flouted a subpoena compelling them to appear before parliament at an international committee hearing on big data and democracy on Tuesday. Instead, Facebook sent local head of policy Kevin Chan and global head of policy Neil Potts.
“It’s only fitting that there’s an ongoing summons, so as soon as they step foot into our country they will be served and expected to [appear before] our committee,” committee chair Bob Zimmer said.
Zimmer initially threatened to hold Zuckerberg and Sandberg in contempt of parliament if they failed to appear on Tuesday. Now, the executives could be held in contempt if they choose to ignore the summons when they are served, Zimmer said on Tuesday.
The executives were subpoenaed by Zimmer earlier this month to present evidence regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a quiz app obtained information from tens of millions of Facebook users without their direct consent that was later used to boost Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
“We share the Committee's desire to keep people safe and to hold companies like ours accountable,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. “We look forward to answering their questions and remain committed to working with world leaders, governments, and industry experts to address these complex issues.”
Declining to appear before lawmakers who have gathered to hear from executives, even under subpoena, is becoming a pattern for Facebook.
The international hearing on Tuesday is the second of its kind and featured representatives from numerous nations including Germany, the UK, Ireland, Singapore, and witnesses such as The Age of Surveillance Capitalism author Shoshana Zuboff. The first installment of the international committee was held in the UK last year, where Zuckerberg was also a no-show.
British Labour Party MP Ian Lucas, who was in attendance at the hearing on Tuesday, called the no-show an act of “recidivism” on Zuckerberg’s part.
In Canada, specifically, Facebook is cultivating a track record for flouting the law.
Last month, in late April, Canada’s federal privacy regulator announced that it found Facebook broke Canadian privacy law with regards to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook’s response at the time was simply that it disagrees with the finding that it broke the law. Canadian government is set up so that the regulator does not have the power to lay fines directly and instead must go through the courts.
“For a company to be able to say to a regulator, ‘Thank you very much for your opinion, but we’re going to continue like we did before,’ is entirely unacceptable,” Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said at the time.
And with Tuesday’s snub of international lawmakers, Facebook continues like it did before.
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