UK Parliament seized confidential Facebook docs to investigate its data protection policies.

Pierluigi Paganini November 27, 2018

UK Parliament Seizes seized confidential Facebook documents from the developer of a now-defunct bikini photo searching app to investigate its data protection policies.

A British lawmaker obliged a visiting tech executive to share the files ahead of an international hearing that parliament is hosting on Tuesday to gather info into disinformation and “fake news.”

Committee Chairman Damian Collins obtained and reviewed the documents the parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has received from the app maker Six4Three relating to Facebook.

“Under UK law & parliamentary privilege we can publish papers if we choose to as part of our inquiry.”

Six4Three acquired the files, related to a period between 2013 and 2014, as part of a U.S. lawsuit against Facebook.

The authorities are investigating the Facebook’s privacy policies in 2015 that led Six4Three to shut down its app, Pikinis. Pikinis was an app that allowed users to find photos of their friends in bikinis and bathing suits by searching their friends list.

Collins aims at demonstrating how Facebook abuses could result in misinformation campaigns and interfering with political elections.

Facebook executive, Richard Allan, will have to respond to the answers of lawmakers from seven countries at the committee’s hearing in London next Tuesday.

Lawmakers from seven countries are preparing to grill a Facebook executive, Richard Allan, at the committee’s hearing in London. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has refused to be present.

“The U.K. committee used its powers to compel the chief executive Six4Three, Theodore Kramer, who was on a business trip to London, to turn over the files, according to parliamentary records and news reports.” reported the AP agency.

“The committee twice requested that Kramer turn over the documents. When he failed to do so, Kramer was escorted to parliament and told he risked imprisonment if he didn’t hand them over, the Observer newspaper reported.”

The company is opposing to the disclosure of the files, a judge in California ordered them sealed earlier this year.

Allan informed Collins via email the judge is expected to give guidance on the legal status of the documents as early as Monday,

“Six4Three’s claims are entirely meritless,” Facebook said in a statement.

Last week, Facebook announced it will appeal the fine for failing to protect the privacy of the users in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica improperly collected data of 87 million Facebook users and misused it.

Facebook has been fined £500,000 in the U.K., the maximum fine allowed by the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998, for failing to protect users’ personal information.

Facebook- Cambridge Analytica

The social network giant is sustaining that U.K regulators failed to prove that British users were directly affected.

Britain’s Information Commissioner Office also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people’s data was harvested by others.

According to the ICO,  even after the misuse of the data was discovered in December 2015, the company did not do enough to ensure those who continued to hold it had taken adequate and timely remedial action, including deletion. Other companies continued to access Facebook users’data such as the SCL Group, that was able to access the platform until 2018.

Facebook considers the fine as unacceptable because there are many practices online that are commonly accepted even if they threaten the privacy of the users.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – data protection, UK Parliament)

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