Mark Zuckerberg agrees to meeting with EU officials in Brussels

17 May 2018

EU Parliament building in Brussels. Image: Alexandre Lande/Shutterstock

Mark Zuckerberg will meet with EU politicians to discuss Cambridge Analytica and data protection.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet EU parliamentarians in Brussels to give evidence about the company’s use of personal data.

According to the European Parliament president, Antonio Tajani, the meeting could be as soon as next week. Tajani made the announcement on Twitter, adding that Zuckerberg would be clarifying issues related to the use of personal information with representatives.

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Tajani said: “Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation. I welcome Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500m Europeans.”

Behind closed doors

As opposed to the very public US congressional hearings, the Brussels meeting will take place behind closed doors, where Zuckerberg will be questioned by parliamentarians. Many officials have raised concerns about the private nature of the meeting, stating that it should be a public affair.

Justice commissioner Věra Jourová was admonished by Tajani when she said it was a pity the hearing would not be public. He said it was not her job to control or criticise the decisions reached by the European Parliament, according to Politico.

Minutes for the meeting will be taken and a lower-level Facebook executive will face a public hearing with the civil liberties committee and other groups.

“We have accepted the Council of Presidents’ 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.

A French meeting for Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg will also be meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron on 23 May. The one-on-one meeting will touch on subjects ranging from fake news to the president’s desire for tech firms to pay higher taxes.

More than a dozen tech CEOs, including Satya Nadella and Ginni Rometty of IBM, will meet with Macron at a meeting dubbed ‘Tech for Good’, French paper L’Express reported.

UK politicians are likely to be feeling more than a little snubbed, as Zuckerberg has still not agreed to meeting with them, despite a major push. Head of the digital culture, media and sport committee, Damian Collins, was unhappy with answers given by Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer and said the committee still wished to talk to Zuckerberg.

EU Parliament building in Brussels. Image: Alexandre Lande/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects