Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet before the European Parliament to answer questions about Facebook’s controversial data collection practices.
“We have accepted the Council of President’s proposal to meet with leaders of the European Parliament and appreciate the opportunity for dialogue, to listen to their views and show the steps we are taking to better protect people’s privacy,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
The meeting comes after a highly publicized two-day testimony Zuckerberg gave in front of the U.S. Congress in April about similar concerns related to Facebook’s collection of its users’ data and how it was used in the 2016 presidential election.
“I welcome Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500 million Europeans. It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani wrote in a tweet Wednesday.
Facebook and other related parties concerned will provide Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs members “an in-depth analysis of aspects related to personal data protection,” Tajani said. “Particular emphasis will be placed on the potential impact on electoral processes in Europe.”
Before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect starting on May 25, Facebook and other social media sites have been updating their privacy policies to comply with the broad law.
The GDPR applies to all European and foreign companies that collect European citizen’s data and provides some protection for how it’s used. The companies must provide detailed reports about what they collect from users and how they use it.
Tajani floated the idea of a private meeting, but was quickly criticized by members of the European Parliament, Politico reported. (RELATED: Investor: Mark Zuckerberg Runs Facebook Like A ‘Dictatorship’)
“Zuckerberg must appear before the [European Parliament] under the same conditions as he did on Capitol Hill, in a public hearing before the LIBE committee and not in one or other restricted meeting behind closed doors,” Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group President Guy Verhofstadt wrote in a tweet Tuesday.
Although he has agreed to meet with other European leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Zuckerberg has so far refused calls to testify before the U.K. Parliament and “has no plans” to meet with U.K. officials, CNBC reported.
“We fully recognize the seriousness of these issues and remain committed to providing any additional information required for their enquiry into fake news,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Damian Collins, a U.K. member of Parliament, doesn’t buy it though and released a statement on Tuesday condemning Zuckerberg’s refusal to testify before the U.K. Parliament.
“If Mark Zuckerberg truly recognizes the ‘seriousness’ of these issues as they say they do, we would expect that he would want to appear in front of the Committee and answer questions that are of concern not only to Parliament, but Facebook’s tens of millions of users in this country,” Collins said.
Collins offered the option to let Zuckerberg testify by video, “if that would be the only way to do this during the period of our inquiry,” he said in a statement.
There is not a confirmed date for Zuckerberg’s EU testimony, however, Tajani said it will be “as soon as possible, hopefully already next week.”
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