Even as the US Federal Trade commission (FTC) confirmed that it was investigating Facebook after the leak of personal and other data on some 50 million users to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, media reports quoting unspecified sources said Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old CEO of the social media behemoth, is planning the strategy for his inevitable testimony before the US Congress.
The pressure from lawmakers, the media and the public has become too intense to justify anything less, reports quoting Facebook sources said. It is believed that Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify will also put pressure on Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to do the same. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has officially invited all three CEOs to a hearing on data privacy on April 10.“Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices,” Efe news quoted Acting FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director, Tom Pahl, as saying. Pahl emphasized that the agency is committed to using “all of its tools” to protect the privacy of consumers and that the main such tool is “enforcement action” against companies that do not fulfill their promises in the data privacy area or that violate the law. He explained that the FTC is acting against firms that do not abide by the “Privacy Shield” agreement regulating data transfer with the European Union and against companies that undertake “unfair acts” that harm consumers or violate the FTC Act. “The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements,” a statement said. “Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook.” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy privacy chief, said in a statement last week that the social networking firm remains “strongly committed to protecting people’s information,” adding that “we appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have”. A week ago, after the controversial leak of private information on millions of users came to light, press reports said that the FTC was investigating whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 consent agreement requiring user consent for sharing data by providing use data to Cambridge Analytica in 2014. The London-based political research organization, which collaborated with the election campaign of Donald Trump in the runup to the 2016 vote, used the leaked information to develop a computer programme to predict the decisions of US voters and influence them. (IANS)]]>