Zucker­berg un­scathed by US con­gres­sional grilling

Cyprus Today - - WORLD -

FACE­BOOK Inc chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Zucker­berg fielded 10 hours of ques­tions over two days from nearly 100 US law­mak­ers and emerged largely un­scathed and con­sid­er­ably richer.

He par­ried ques­tions of how much con­trol people have over their data on the world’s largest so­cial me­dia net­work without a ma­jor gaffe, while avoid­ing be­ing cor­nered into sup­port­ing new gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion.

The hear­ings that ended on Wed­nes­day re­vealed no con­sen­sus among US law­mak­ers about what kind of pri­vacy leg­is­la­tion they might want to pur­sue, if any, and no time­line for ac­tion.

Although Mr Zucker­berg, 33, had never tes­ti­fied at a con­gres­sional hear­ing be­fore, he suc­ceeded in de­flect­ing ques­tions like a Wash­ing­ton vet­eran. Forty times the in­ter­net mogul told law­mak­ers he had no an­swers at hand and would get back to them later. About one in three law­mak­ers got that re­sponse over the two days.

Demo­cratic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Deb­bie Din­gell ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with Mr Zucker­berg’s fre­quent prom­ises to get back to law­mak­ers later in writ­ing.

“Some things are strik­ing dur­ing this con­ver­sa­tion,” she said. “As CEO, you didn’t know some key facts.”

On one point, Mr Zucker­berg un­der­cut his con­sis­tent mes­sage that Face­book users have con­trol of their data. He said he was among the nearly 87 mil­lion people whose per­sonal in­for­ma­tion was im­prop­erly shared with po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tancy Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica. He gave no fur­ther de­tails.

His ad­mis­sion that even the com­pany’s tech-savvy founder was un­able to pro­tect his own data un­der­scored the prob­lem Face­book has in per­suad­ing scep­ti­cal law­mak­ers that users can eas­ily safe­guard their own in­for­ma­tion and that fur­ther leg­is­la­tion gov­ern­ing pri­vacy is un­nec­es­sary.

The Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica is­sue was the rea­son Mr Zucker­berg was on Capi­tol Hill, an­swer­ing ques­tions about how that com­pany, which has counted US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion cam­paign among its clients, got hold of data about Face­book users.

His per­for­mance had favourable re­sults. Face­book shares closed up 0.78 per cent on Wed­nes­day af­ter ris­ing 4.5 per cent Tues­day. Over the two days, the value of Mr Zucker­berg’s stake in the com­pany grew by about $3 bil­lion.

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