The Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was given a rougher ride on his second day of congressional testimony on Wednesday as he faced sharp questions about the tech giant’s ability to track its users’ movements, shopping habits and browsing histories and was at one stage compared to J Edgar Hoover.
During five hours of testimony, the billionaire entrepreneur revealed that his own personal information was among that handed over to the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission.
On Tuesday, Facebook began notifying millions of people around the world that their private information may have been given to Cambridge Analytica in the worst privacy debacle in his company’s history. Zuckerberg and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, have been on a media apology tour since the story broke in the Observer, the Guardian’s sister Sunday newspaper.
The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, built by the Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan. The Democratic congressman Eliot Engel of New York asked if Facebook planned to sue Kogan, Cambridge University or Cambridge Analytica.
Several other members of the House committee pressed Zuckerberg on whether Facebook was transparent about much information it collects on users and even non-users. Some tech analysts following proceedings from afar picked holes in his testimony, accusing him of conflating different points on the issue of whether users own and control their data.
The Democrat Jan Schakowsky of Illinois also gave Zuckerberg an uncomfortable moment by reading aloud various apologies he had issued in the past for mistakes. “You have a long list of apologies,” she said. “This is proof to me that self-regulation simply does not work.”
Indeed, questions of greater regulation of the tech industry have run through the two days of hearings. Zuckerberg acknowledged: “The internet is growing in importance around the world in people’s lives and I think that it is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation. So my position is not that there should be no regulation but I also think that you have to be careful about regulation you put in place.”
Source: The Guardian