SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

UK lawmaker hopes to publish secret Facebook documents within a week

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not attend an international committee hearing on fake news and disinformation. The hearing came just as committee chair Damian Collins obtained internal Facebook documents that had been under seal by order of a California court.

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 11:05 AM


The British lawmaker who seized a cache of confidential Facebook documents says he could make them public within a week.

Damian Collins, the chairman of a British parliamentary committee investigating disinformation, told reporters he would release the documents once they had been reviewed and stripped of personal data.

"I can't give you an exact date, but I would hope we would be in a position to publish them very soon," he said Tuesday. "Certainly within the next week or so, that would be my hope."

Facebook (FB) has fought for months to keep the documents private. They are part of a court case in California between Facebook and a small app developer.

Collins was able to obtain copies of the documents just days before his committee was joined by lawmakers from eight other countries for an unusual hearing related to Facebook and disinformation in London on Tuesday.

The inaugural hearing of the "International Grand Committee on Disinformation" was attended by lawmakers from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Much of the discussion focused on the absence of one star witness. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was repeatedly asked to attend, but the tech company has instead dispatched one of his deputies.

The committee left an open seat for the CEO on Tuesday, complete with a nameplate.

The lawmakers questioned Richard Allan, a former member of the House of Commons and the company's vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Charlie Angus, a lawmaker from Canada, opened the hearing with a broadside.

"We've never seen anything quite like Facebook, where while we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions ... seem to have been upended by frat boy billionaires from California," he said.

Facebook documents

Collins, who had claimed the legal authority to publish the Facebook documents ahead of the hearing, did not act on that threat.

The documents are under court seal in the United States. Facebook wrote to Collins over the weekend asking him to consider hearing from the US court before making the documents public.

Collins wrote in a response that he had the power to publish the documents, which were seized from the owner of the app developer while he was visiting London. But he said Tuesday he would not release the documents during the hearing.

"We are going through the documents we have received," he told reporters when asked why he had not published them. "You probably understand there is a very large number of them."

"It is not a lack of desire on our part to publish them, I can promise you that," he added.

Members of parliament have certain legal immunities when conducting official proceedings.

This protection from prosecution ensures freedom of speech, including documents and reports published as part of parliamentary proceedings.

Collins did, however, question Allan during the hearing about one email included in the document trove that was written by a Facebook engineer.

He said that the email, written in 2014, warned that entities with Russian IP addresses were collecting billions of Facebook data points a day through Pinterest.

Allan did not address the alleged incident directly, but he told Collins that "the information you have seen is at best partial and at worst potentially misleading."

Facebook told CNN Business that "the engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity."

Later on Tuesday, Facebook released a copy of the email chain with the engineer's warning. The full chain showed that the engineer appears to have been mistaken.

In a statement, Facebook said, "We looked into this at the time and determined that the calls to the API [Facebook system] were all legitimate API calls from Pinterest and not from Russia. We also determined the volume of actual calls to be around 6m and that the suggestion of billions was inaccurate."

It is not clear if the committee had access to the entire chain or just the emails in which the engineer initially raised the false alarm. CNN has asked the committee to clarify.

Pinterest told CNN earlier in the day that it was investigating and had contacted Facebook. Pinterest later pointed CNN to Facebook's statement.

Facebook has endured a year of negative headlines about fake news, election meddling and privacy concerns. Zuckerberg pushed back on some of the unrelenting critical coverage last week in an interview with CNN Business.

Allan, a member of the House of Lords, said he was responsible for the decision for Zuckerberg not to attend the hearing.

Asked how that looked for a member of parliament, he said: "Not great, I guess is the answer."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 78160

Reported Deaths: 953
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah18149245
Washington10929103
Marion9634147
Clackamas672781
Lane450747
Umatilla446850
Jackson401737
Deschutes251715
Malheur245945
Yamhill179717
Linn160023
Polk133219
Douglas98119
Klamath9265
Jefferson87411
Benton8457
Union8098
Morrow6717
Lincoln66515
Josephine5785
Wasco54319
Columbia5394
Coos4533
Hood River4303
Clatsop3730
Baker2914
Crook2446
Tillamook1470
Curry1462
Lake1431
Grant1381
Harney1041
Wallowa723
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler60
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1265182

Reported Deaths: 19410
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles4141857740
San Bernardino966571136
Riverside885301444
San Diego846381035
Orange805511578
Kern42614449
Fresno39004488
Sacramento38999586
Santa Clara35945486
Alameda30330520
San Joaquin26432510
Contra Costa24914261
Stanislaus22624430
Tulare21645312
Ventura20604185
Imperial16429356
Monterey15835123
San Francisco15797160
San Mateo14812170
Sonoma12662160
Merced12281182
Santa Barbara11631137
Kings1143489
Solano1095781
Marin7840129
Placer679471
Madera642786
San Luis Obispo634538
Shasta518750
Yolo502081
Santa Cruz463829
Butte419560
Sutter363719
Napa312418
El Dorado25814
Yuba222110
Lassen21823
San Benito196817
Tehama177326
Mendocino163223
Nevada141410
Tuolumne11049
Glenn98910
Lake97120
Humboldt9499
Colusa7476
Siskiyou7373
Amador66616
Mono5503
Calaveras54422
Del Norte3571
Inyo30816
Plumas2300
Trinity1680
Modoc1560
Mariposa1443
Alpine510
Sierra230
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 35°
Brookings
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 42°
Crater Lake
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 20°
Grants Pass
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 32°
Klamath Falls
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 20°
Staying dry this week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events