Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to ignore the Canadian Parliament’s subpoena to appear before its ethics committee, a move that could see Zuckerberg held in contempt of Parliament.
Gizmodo reports that the Canadian Parliament’s ethics committee voted this month to subpoena Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. The executives were asked to appear as witnesses at a hearing in Ottawa which was set to include multiple other tech executives including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Facebook told CNN this week, however, that neither executive would be appearing at the hearing and would instead be sending Facebook’s head of public policy Kevin Chan in their place. This led to some Canadian MPs suggesting that Zuckerberg and Sandberg could be found in contempt of Parliament for failure to appear. Such a ruling would mean that the ethics committee would have to approve a motion recommending the charge before the full house of Commons approved it.
Conservative MP Bob Zimmer told the CBC, “I don’t think it would send a good message internationally about, you know, blowing off an entire country of 36 million people.” Of course, Canadian lawmakers have no real authority to summon individuals from outside of the country, so a ruling finding the executives in contempt would be more symbolic than anything.
This isn’t the first time that Zuckerberg has refused to appear before a foreign government. Notably, he refused to appear at the last joint-parliamentary hearing held by the United Kingdom and Canada concerning Facebook’s protection of user data and the presence of bad actors on the platform. Canada’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien announced last month that his office plans to file suit against Facebook after it was determined that Facebook violated Canadian laws relating to user consent over personal information.
More than 600,000 Canadians were affected by the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal. Therrien stated in April that “Facebook’s refusal to act responsibly is deeply troubling given the vast amount of sensitive information people have entrusted to this company.” Therrien added that “the company’s privacy framework was empty.”