Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Representatives from nine countries grilled a Facebook executive in Great Britain Tuesday about online safety, fake news, harmful content, bullying and data breaches.
The International Grand Committee Session on Fake News was named and organized by British Parliament member Damian Collins, who chairs the legislative body's digital culture, media and sports select committee. Lawmakers from Britain, Canada, France, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Latvia, Argentina and Singapore attended the hearing.
Canadian Parliament member Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said it is "unfortunate" Zuckerberg was not there, adding that it "speaks to a failure to account for the loss of trust certainly across the globe with respect to Facebook."
"In the Canadian context, it wasn't until recently that you started to notify Canadian users that their information was shared in the Cambridge Analytica context," Erskine-Smith said, referencing the data breach that resulted in information for some 87 million people being shared with data firm Cambridge Analytica. "And that sense of corporate responsibility particularly one of the immense power and profit of Facebook has been as empty as the chair beside you."
Richard Allen, a member of Britain's House of Lords and Facebook's vice president of policy solutions, said it was "not great" that Zuckerberg skipped the hearing.
"I think it's important we have this king of engagement but I also have a role supporting my company as it tries to grapple with the issues that we're talking about today," Allen said. "And I understand we're trying to work out where senior officers of the company should be that we should work this out."
British authorities have new ammunition to use against Facebook.
New details emerged on how Britain compelled the founder of a startup to hand over sensitive court documents that could have embarrassing information about how Facebook executives handled user privacy.
Ted Kramer founded Six4Three with an app called Pikinis that combed Facebook pages for photos of women in bikinis. The app went out of business when Facebook instituted new privacy controls in 2015, leading Kramer to sue Facebook.
Court documents from that California trial were sealed and kept confidential -- until Kramer visited Britain over the weekend. Collins had the sergeant at arms visit Kramer at his hotel room and gave him a two-hour deadline to hand over the court documents. He refused, so he was escorted to Parliament where they threatened him with jail time and fines for contempt of Parliament.
"At this point, Mr. Kramer panicked. He opened his computer, took out a USB drive and went onto the local dropbox folder containing Six4Three's documents," court documents show
Kramer turned the documents over without his legal counsel being present and he knew this went against what he'd been advised, court documents show. After he left the meeting, he skipped his remaining meetings and went straight to the airport.
Once attorneys found out, they ordered Collins to return the documents immediately.
Collins said he had "already viewed the contents of these documents and they are "clearly of significant interest to the Committee's inquiry."