A cross-party committee has requested that Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg appear before it to answer questions about data protection and democracy.
The energy and water resources committee said in a statement that “together we have achieved bipartisan support, and we hope Mark Zuckerberg will agree to attend”.
Disclosures about Facebook’s data collection methods have recently sparked a wide range of inquiries from state and federal governments.
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Facebook has been contacted for comment.
In December last year, a joint report from Labor and the Greens recommended a royal commission into social media. This suggestion was passed by a joint committee of the NSW and Victorian legislatures, which directed a similar royal commission be held.
The NSW and Victorian states are working on legislation, which they hope will determine what is acceptable data collection and sharing and if Facebook’s changes to how it uses data are sufficient. The proposals will govern the use of data not just by Facebook, but by the platforms owned by other tech giants, such as YouTube and Twitch.
In the joint statement, the MPs urged Zuckerberg to appear before the committee, saying they “urge [him] to come out to face the committees in Parliament and answer the very important questions”.
“The committee is dedicated to examining the future of our world and the way information is captured, shared and used,” the joint statement said.
The Australian Electoral Commission last month commissioned a new digital investigative unit, which will look into people’s data use on Facebook. It came after the announcement that the electoral commission had been forced to tell 5.4m people they could no longer vote via Facebook.
This is just the latest in a string of criticism Facebook has faced since the 2018 US midterms. Facebook admitted millions of people had been able to access the platform without their permission, and the UK’s information commissioner launched legal proceedings against the company for alleged privacy breaches.
Facebook laid off a dozen staff members after it was revealed Cambridge Analytica, a data firm it used to target voters in the US election, bought information from up to 87 million people.
The European parliament member José Bové, a long-time critic of Facebook, also called for the company’s collapse to be formalised.
“Facebook is a dead machine,” he said on Thursday. “It had a grave error of judgement with regards to the whole situation. We need a judicial commission to enforce a comprehensive audit of Facebook.”