STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

UK lawmaker hopes to publish secret Facebook documents within a week

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

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 6:23 AM
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 6:23 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.

Companies

Continents and regions

England

Europe

Facebook

Government and public administration

London

Northern Europe

Politics

United Kingdom

Disinformation

Societal issues

Society

British Parliament

Government organizations - Intl

Business figures

Government bodies and offices

Legislative bodies

Mark Zuckerberg

Digital privacy

Technology

North America

The Americas

United States

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Journalism and news media

Media industry

"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."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35712

Reported Deaths: 2207
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10037594
Lake3806202
Allen174371
Cass15927
Elkhart143529
St. Joseph132035
Hamilton118094
Hendricks118074
Johnson1120110
Madison59761
Porter55329
Clark52841
Bartholomew52238
Howard43734
LaPorte43624
Tippecanoe4214
Shelby39822
Jackson3942
Delaware38740
Hancock34928
Floyd32140
Boone31835
Vanderburgh2902
Morgan28324
Noble25121
Montgomery24417
Clinton2401
White2389
Decatur23031
Grant22123
Dubois2053
Harrison19622
Henry18412
Vigo1758
Greene17125
Dearborn17021
Monroe17012
Warrick16728
Kosciusko1661
Lawrence16524
Marshall1472
Miami1411
Putnam1377
Orange13122
Jennings1314
Scott1223
Franklin1158
Ripley1086
LaGrange1022
Daviess9516
Carroll933
Steuben872
Wayne865
Wabash802
Fayette797
Newton7810
Jasper701
Jay530
Clay522
Washington511
Rush503
Randolph503
Fulton501
Pulaski490
Jefferson471
Whitley443
DeKalb431
Starke393
Sullivan371
Owen341
Perry340
Huntington342
Brown331
Benton320
Wells320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford240
Fountain222
Switzerland210
Spencer211
Adams201
Gibson182
Parke180
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin120
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0175
West Lafayette
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 86°
Kokomo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 83°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 83°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 82°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 79°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 84°
Delphi
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
Monticello
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 81°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 81°
Isolated storms & humid......
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