BREAKING NEWS Protests continue in downtown Lafayette, avoid the area Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

The crazy tale of how the UK parliament ended up with secret Facebook documents

An American app developer who gave confidential documents about Facebook to UK lawmakers during a visit to L...

Posted: Nov 27, 2018 10:51 AM
Updated: Nov 27, 2018 10:51 AM

An American app developer who gave confidential documents about Facebook to UK lawmakers during a visit to London says he did so because he panicked and feared he wouldn't be let out of the country unless he complied.

Court papers filed Monday in California detail a twisting, tangled tale of intrigue that Six4Three owner Ted Kramer claims led him to hand over the documents to a parliamentary committee investigating Facebook, even though a California court ordered that the documents must remain under seal.

California

Companies

Continents and regions

Digital privacy

Europe

Facebook

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Legislative bodies

North America

Northern Europe

Politics

Southwestern United States

Technology

The Americas

United Kingdom

United States

England

London

The documents are significant in part because some of them may contain correspondence between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and company executives. Kramer has them because his company sued Facebook and accused the social media giant of having a disregard for user privacy. Six4Three also claimed that Zuckerberg devised a plan that forced some of Facebook's rivals, or potential rivals, out of business.

Facebook had fought for months to keep the documents from being made public. It's now possible that their contents could be revealed during the committee's hearing this week.

In Monday's court filing, Kramer's lawyers claimed that during a recent trip to London, he resisted demands from UK lawmaker Damian Collins that he give Collins the documents. But Kramer eventually "panicked" after a UK official showed up at his hotel room and ordered him to surrender the documents, the filing says.

Facebook and Six4Three declined to comment. Collins, who heads the committee investigating Facebook, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

How the documents ended up in the United Kingdom

Kramer's story begins with Carole Cadwalladr, a reporter for The Guardian who has covered Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. His attorneys suggested in Monday's court filing that she somehow tipped off members of the UK parliament to Kramer's movements so they would know when he was in the country.

According to the court filing, Cadwalladr told Kramer in August "that she would like to raise Six4Three's case with Damian Collins." A few months later, Collins told Kramer that Cadwalladr told him about the Facebook-related documents in Kramer's possession.

At the time, Kramer told Collins that he couldn't hand over the documents because they were under seal in California, the filing says.

Things escalated earlier this month. Kramer told Cadwalladr that he was taking a business trip to London. According to Monday's filing, the reporter suggested that they meet to talk about the case. Kramer agreed and gave her the address of his hotel.

Once he arrived, Kramer received an email from Collins and his committee that demanded he produce the documents. The court filing says he declined, citing the California order sealing them.

That back-and-forth culminated in a visit to Kramer's hotel last Wednesday by the Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons, according to the court filing. Kramer's attorneys claim the Serjeant-at-Arms served him with an order demanding that he produce the documents.

The attorneys say their client "does not know how" the committee discovered where he was staying and that the only person he told about the location of his hotel was Cadwalladr.

Monday's court filing does not provide any evidence that Collins learned any information about Kramer's visit from Cadwalladr.

Cadwalladr declined to comment for this article.

After the hotel visit, Kramer received another email from the committee which threatened to hold him in contempt of Parliament, according to the court filing. Fearing that he'd be barred from leaving the country, he eventually went to Parliament to meet with Collins without telling his lawyers.

The filing claims that Collins and his staff kept Kramer "for two hours" and told him "that he was under an active investigation, that he was now in contempt of Parliament, and that the penalty could include fines and potential imprisonment."

"At this point, Mr. Kramer panicked," the filing says. Kramer downloaded the documents to a USB drive and handed them over to the committee.

The court filing notes that neither Kramer's company nor its lawyers "condones or approves of the manner in which Mr. Kramer resolved that dilemma."

What's next?

Collins said the committee is reviewing the documents — which he has called "clearly of significant interest to the committee's inquiry" — so it can decide how to proceed.

The committee is holding an unprecedented meeting Tuesday during which it will question witnesses on so-called "fake news" and disinformation. The meeting will feature representatives from nine countries and will take place in London. An executive from Facebook is scheduled to attend.

The documents could be made public during the hearing. Members of the UK Parliament have "parliamentary privilege," which gives them a great deal of leeway to discuss issues without legal ramifications.

Facebook is also expected to file a brief about the consequences of Collins' having demanded the documents from Kramer, despite the US court order prohibiting their release, including what issues it may raise under the US Constitution.

Earlier this year, CNN filed jointly with The Guardian a motion in the California court asking for the documents to be unsealed. That motion was not successful. Cadwalladr reports for The Guardian and its sister newspaper The Observer.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
Montgomery24117
White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
Wabash782
Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
Clay511
Fulton491
Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167
West Lafayette
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Kokomo
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 67°
Rensselaer
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Fowler
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Williamsport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Crawfordsville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 69°
Delphi
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Monticello
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 68°
Logansport
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Hot, humid weather with severe weather risk.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events