The UK government has seized documents from a software company as part of an ongoing inquiry into the way Facebook handles its users’ data.
The documents from Six4Three apparently contain emails between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg, according to The Observer, who first broke the story.
MP Damian Collins, the Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, has said they believe the documents contain “important information” about the way Facebook has shared its users’ information with developers.
The @CommonsCMS has received the documents it ordered from Six4Three relating to Facebook. I have reviewed them and the committee will discuss how we will proceed early next week. Under UK law & parliamentary privilege we can publish papers if we choose to as part of our inquiry
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) November 25, 2018
After the documents were seized, Richard Allen, Facebook’s public policy vice president, sent a letter to Damian Collins.
In the letter, Allen refers to the context of Six4Three’s legal action against Facebook, which stems from an app the software firm developed — Pikinis — to allow users to quickly find swimsuit photos on the social network.
“This case has become a matter of public debate and it is important that participants in this debate understand its context,” he wrote.
Collins shared his reply on Twitter:
“The Committee’s interest in the documents we have requested relates to their relevance to our ongoing inquiry into disinformation and fake news,” Collins wrote. “As you know, we have asked many questions of Facebook about its policies on sharing user data with developers, how these have been enforced, and how the company identifies activity of bad actors.
“We believe that the documents we have ordered from Six4Three could contain important information about this which is of a high level of public interest.”
As Collins also makes clear early on in the letter, that the committee could use parliamentary privilege to publish the documents, if they want to do so.
A Facebook spokesperson sent the following comment to Mashable:
“Six4Three’s claims are entirely meritless — Facebook has never traded Facebook data for anything and we’ve always made clear that developer access is subject to both our policies and what info people choose to share. We operate in a fiercely competitive market in which people connect and share. For every service offered on Facebook and our family of apps, you can find at least three or four competing services with hundreds of millions, if not billions, of users.”
All eyes will now be on Damian Collins’ Twitter feed to see what the committee’s next move will be.