UK PAR­LIA­MENT SEIZES CON­FI­DEN­TIAL FACE­BOOK DOC­U­MENTS

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Bri­tain’s par­lia­ment has seized con­fi­den­tial Face­book doc­u­ments from the de­vel­oper of a now-de­funct bikini photo search­ing app as it turns up the heat on the so­cial me­dia com­pany over its data pro­tec­tion poli­cies.

A British law­maker took the un­usu­ally ag­gres­sive move of forc­ing a vis­it­ing tech ex­ec­u­tive to turn over the files ahead of an in­ter­na­tional hear­ing that par­lia­ment is host­ing on Tues­day to look into dis­in­for­ma­tion and “fake news.”

The par­lia­ment’s Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport Com­mit­tee has “re­ceived the doc­u­ments it or­dered from Six4Three re­lat­ing to Face­book,” Com­mit­tee Chair­man Damian Collins tweeted on Sun­day , adding that he had al­ready re­viewed them. “Un­der UK law & par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege we can pub­lish pa­pers if we choose to as part of our in­quiry.”

The app maker, Six4Three, had ac­quired the files, which date from 2013-2014, as part of a U.S. law­suit against the so­cial me­dia gi­ant. It’s su­ing Face­book over a change to the so­cial net­work’s pri­vacy poli­cies in 2015 that led Six4Three to shut down its app, Piki­nis, which let users find pho­tos of their friends in biki­nis and bathing suits by search­ing their friends list.

Collins, a critic of so­cial me­dia abuses and ma­nip­u­la­tion, is lead­ing the com­mit­tee’s look into the rise of “fake news” and how it is be­ing used to in­flu­ence po­lit­i­cal elec­tions.

Law­mak­ers from seven coun­tries are pre­par­ing to grill a Face­book ex­ec­u­tive, Richard Al­lan, at the com­mit­tee’s hear­ing in Lon­don. They had asked for Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg to ap­pear in per­son or by video, but he has re­fused.

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. 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.

Face­book wants the files to be kept se­cret and a judge in Cal­i­for­nia or­dered them sealed ear­lier this year.

The judge is ex­pected to give guid­ance on the le­gal sta­tus of the doc­u­ments as early as Mon­day, Al­lan wrote in a let­ter to Collins.

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

Im­age: Si­mon Daw­son

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