Facebook Execs Grilled By Canadian MP’s And Issue An Apology That May Not Stop Users From Joining Team #DeleteFacebook

Today, some execs from Facebook made a trip to Ottawa to be grilled in front of a House Of Commons committee hearing today. They got a rough ride according to the CBC. For example, when it came up that Facebook knew for two years that Cambridge Analytica swiped the data of tens of thousands of Canadians and the company did nothing, this happened:

Robert Sherman, deputy privacy officer for Facebook, conceded the company should have be more proactive in informing users that their raw data might have been used by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that helped the Leave campaign in the Brexit vote and the candidacy of U.S. President Donald Trump.

When asked why Facebook didn’t notify Canadians whose personal information was breached in 2016, Sherman said: “In retrospect, we should have done that.”

Kevin Chan, head of public policy for Facebook in Canada, offered an apology to Canadians whose profiles might have been compromised. Chan said Facebook was too idealistic — and “naive” — about how its technology is used, and didn’t focus enough on abuse.

“What is alleged to have occurred is a huge breach of trust to our users, and for that we are sorry,” Chan, ex-policy director for former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, told MPs on the House of Commons privacy committee.

Something else that came up is the fact that Facebook was taking steps to make sure that as many users as possible were not covered by GDPR which is something that I reported on this morning. As well as their feelings about GDPR. From there the grilling covered some veiled threats by Facebook to pull investments from Canada if there was too much regulation placed on the company:

Conservative MP Peter Kent questioned Facebook’s professed openness to tighter regulations or a strengthened Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), saying Canadian MPs were recently warned by Facebook officials in Washington, D.C. that such a move could result in Facebook dialling back its investments in Canada — notably its $7 million financial commitment to the artificial intelligence (AI) research hub in Montreal.

“We were told, almost in passing, that any new Canadian regulations might well put at risk Facebook investments in Canada,” Kent said. “I’m wondering if that same caution would still be made?”

Chan strenuously denied investment decisions are being tied to a country’s regulatory burden. “That is not our view, that is not the representation we would have made. In fact, we’re quite proud to be supporters of AI in Canada.”

Reached for comment later, Kent stood by his description of the initial warning from Facebook officials.

That’s the first time I’ve heard of a threat like that. But I’m not surprised by that as any sort or regulation could potentially hurt Facebook’s ability to make money. Finally, they were apparently caught potentially violating lobbying rules:

Chan also was questioned by NDP MP Charlie Angus about why he hadn’t yet registered as a lobbyist, given the fact that he’s met with senior cabinet members, including Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

The former Liberal aide said it wasn’t necessary for him to register since the portion of his work that could be classified as lobbying falls short of the Lobbying Act’s 20 per cent minimum threshold.

He added that the meeting with Morneau was simply to show him how best to use the Facebook Live function of the platform after the release of the federal budget. That prompted Angus to ask if Chan thought that sort of activity was a good use of his time.

Duff Conacher, the co-founder of Democracy Watch, said Thursday he’d be filing an official complaint with the lobbying commissioner over Chan’s failure to register, asking that an investigation be launched into Facebook’s activities in Ottawa.

Oops. That may not end well for them.

Clearly this was not a good day for Facebook in the nation’s capital. And this may encourage Canadian Facebook users to #DeleteFacebook.

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