Facebook boss faces European Parliament over data scandal

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Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg faces tough questions later Tuesday at the European Parliament over the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal.

The social network boss’s appearance will be livestreamed to the public after angry EU lawmakers objected to initial plans to host the hearing in Brussels behind closed doors.

His grilling by the heads of the parliament’s political groups at around 1630 GMT comes three days before the EU introduces sweeping new personal data protection rules, which the Facebook chief has now welcomed.

“Great news for EU citizens,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani tweeted on Monday about the decision to stream the hearing after days of bitter wrangling.

MEPs had demanded that Zuckerberg show the transparency the scandal calls for.

Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.

The Silicon Valley social network has told the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, that the personal data of up to 2.7 million Europeans may have been sent inappropriately to Cambridge Analytica, which has since filed for bankruptcy in the US.

Tajani, who first invited the young American billionaire to testify before parliament back in March, will meet him around 1600 GMT, followed by parliamentary leaders.

The Italian politician has warned Zuckerberg it would be a “big mistake” for him not to answer questions from an elected body that regulates a market of 500 million people, many of them Facebook users.

Tajani said MEPs want to know if “people used data for changing the position of the citizens,” including during the shock 2016 referendum for Britain to leave the EU.

In April, Tajani rejected Zuckerberg’s initial offer to send a more junior executive in his place.

Objecting to the latest plans for a closed-door hearing, MEPs insisted Zuckerberg face a grilling similar to his 10-hour interrogation in US Congress last month.

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