U.S. and European lawmakers demanded Facebook for probes of data practices

Vastavam web: British privacy regulators are seeking a warrant to search the offices of the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica late Monday following reports that the company may have improperly gained access to data on 50 million Facebook users, according to a Channel 4 television report.The move came as U.S. and European lawmakers demanded an explanation of how the consulting firm, which worked on President Donald Trump’s election campaign, gained access to the data. In the U.S., members of Congress called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about Facebook’s actions.

“Auditors from Stroz Friedberg were on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office this evening,” the company said in a statement late Monday. “At the request of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, which has announced it is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation, the Stroz Friedberg auditors stood down.”“The lid is being opened on the black box of Facebook data practices, and the picture is not pretty,” said Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor who has written about Silicon Valley’s use of data.

Also on Monday, a source said that Facebook head of security, Alex Stamos, plans to leave the company over disagreements about the company’s policies on misinformation. He had been a strong advocate for an aggressive approach to alleged Russian activity on the platform aimed at manipulating elections. His departure was first reported by the New York Times. Facebook declined immediate comment.The criticism of Cambridge Analytica presents a new threat to Facebook’s reputation, which is already under attack over Russia’s alleged use of Facebook tools to sway U.S. voters with divisive and false news posts before and after the 2016 election.

London-based Cambridge Analytica said it strongly denied the media claims, and that it deleted all Facebook data it obtained from a third-party application in 2014 after learning the information did not adhere to data protection rules.Cambridge Analytica rejected the allegations, saying in a statement that the Channel 4 report “is edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of those conversations and how the company conducts its business.”

Facebook was already facing calls on Saturday for regulation from the U.S. Congress after the reports in the New York Times and London’s Observer over the weekend.Republican Senator John Kennedy called on Zuckerberg to testify before Congress, and Democratic Senator Ron Widen sent a letter to Zuckerberg asking about company policies for sharing user data with third parties.

Facebook usually sends lawyers to testify to Congress, or allows trade organizations to represent it and other technology companies in front of lawmakers.
Facebook and other social media companies including Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube have taken voluntary steps to restrict possible foreign interference and combat false news, but they have not been forced by law or regulation to make changes and legislation on the issue has stalled.