House Democrats unveil a new set of questions for Facebook
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When Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress earlier this month, he left a lot of questions in his wake. More than 20 times, he responded to Congressional inquiries by saying that he didn’t have the information on hand but that his team would follow up with more information after the hearing had closed.
But 13 days after the hearings, congressional democrats on the House Energy and Commerce committee say still they haven’t heard anything from Facebook.
“It’s been two weeks since our hearing and we have yet to receive responses to questions that Mr. Zuckerberg could not answer on that day,” Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said. “Furthermore, our Committee staff met with Facebook staffers two weeks prior to the hearing, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions from that meeting.” Facebook declined to comment.
A formal deadline for Facebook’s responses has yet to be set by the committee and the window is still open for representatives to add new questions. As a result, it’s not entirely surprising that Facebook hasn’t yet replied. Still, Pallone said the lack of further information was hampering Congressional efforts to develop new privacy regulations. “It simply should not take this long to respond to this Committee’s questions about critical privacy and data security issues,” Pallone said. “This information is critical as the Committee looks to develop comprehensive privacy and data security legislation that would include any company that collects and uses consumers’ data.”
Today, the committee sent a new list of questions to Facebook in an effort to nail down information that was not available during the hearings. There are 113 separate questions on the list, many of which include multiple sub-questions, largely dealing with information collected and held by Facebook that is not explicitly shared by users. That information, which includes both shadow profiles and broader ad-tracking, was largely skimmed over during Zuckerberg’s testimony.
Congress is already considering multiple bills that would place further regulatory restrictions on Facebook, including the Honest Ads Act, which would place stronger disclosure requirements on online political ads, and the CONSENT Act, which would require explicit opt-in consent for data collection. Earlier this week, Senators introduced a new bill called the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act, which would give US users the right to see all the data a given site holds on them, and delete any or all of it on request.