Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with key European lawmakers in a private session as soon as next week, the company said Wednesday, as Europe scrutinizes the tech giant’s privacy practices and its entanglement with Cambridge Analytica.
The session will be held in Brussels with the Conference of Presidents, an organization that includes the president of Parliament and the leaders of its political groups. It will be followed later with a public committee hearing featuring other representatives from Facebook — which Zuckerberg is not expected to attend — and its technology peers.
“Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation,” Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, said in a statement.
“Parliament’s priority is to ensure the proper functioning of the digital market, with a high level of protection for personal data, effective rules on copyright and the protection of consumer rights,” he said. “Web giants must be responsible for the content they publish, including blatantly false news and illegal content.”
Facebook confirmed the meeting. “We have accepted the Council of President's proposal to meet with leaders of the European Parliament,” a spokesman said.
Like their American counterparts, European regulators have investigated Facebook and its relationship with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that improperly accessed the names, “Likes” and other personal information from 87 million of the social site’s users.
Initially, Tajani and the European Parliament sought a public hearing with Zuckerberg, as did lawmakers in the United Kingdom, which has spent months investigating issues like “fake news” and online disinformation. Zuckerberg repeatedly has turned down the U.K.’s requests.
In the United States, meanwhile, Facebook’s privacy practices received continued scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Christopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica who later turned whistleblower, acknowledged at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that he had been contacted by the FBI and Justice Department but wasn’t personally under investigation.
“What I bore witness to at Cambridge Analytica should alarm everyone,” Wylie said in prepared testimony. “Cambridge Analytica is the canary in the coal mine to a new Cold War emerging online.”