Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Damian Collins MP has written to Facebook VP for global affairs and communications Sir Nick Clegg about discrepancies relating to the Cambridge Analytica investigation.
Collins asked the former Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrats leader, who joined Facebook in October 2018, about who at Facebook knew what and when about Cambridge Analytica’s activities on the platform with the “this is your digital life” app, which lead to the misuse of 87 million people’s data.
Claiming that “senior executives from Facebook, including its Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer and Lord Richard Allan, consistently asserted in evidence over the course of 2018 to the Committee that Facebook first learned that Global Science Research (GSR) and Cambridge Analytica had compromised Facebook user data from a Guardian article published in December 2015,” the SEC said its complaint states that Facebook employees already knew about Cambridge Analytica prior December 2015.
“We therefore request a response on whether the SEC complaint is accurate that employees did raise concerns about Cambridge Analytica before December 2015 and how these discrepancies in evidence have occurred,” Collins letter stated.
Also, despite the red flags raised by Facebook employees about Cambridge Analytica from as early as September 2015, these incidents were not reported to senior management. In a letter to the Committee dated May 14 2018, Rebecca Stimson, Facebook’s UK head of public policy, confirmed that “Mr. Zuckerberg did not become aware of allegations that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted data about Facebook users obtained through Dr Kogan’s app until March of 2018, when these issues were raised in the media.”
Also, Collins sought guarantees on the deletion of user data held by Cambridge Analytica, as the SEC Complaint notes that several Facebook employees were also aware of data misuse throughout 2016 and beyond. On February 8 2018, Simon Milner, policy director at Facebook, denied to the Committee that Cambridge Analytica held a “large chunk of Facebook user data.”
Collins said that the Committee were requesting information on instances that concerns about Cambridge Analytica were raised by employees and why no action was taken until 2018, and why the Committee was not informed about these concerns in the sessions with Milner and Schroepfer.
Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined Facebook $100m “for making misleading disclosures regarding the risk of misuse of Facebook user data.” The SEC’s complaint alleged that Facebook discovered the misuse of its users’ information in 2015, but did not correct its existing disclosure for more than two years.
Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division said: “As alleged in our complaint, Facebook presented the risk of misuse of user data as hypothetical when they knew user data had in fact been misused. Public companies must have procedures in place to make accurate disclosures about material business risks.”