Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to give evidence to the European Parliament about the use of personal data, the Parliament’s president has announced.
Antonio Tajani said Mr Zuckerberg would meet leaders of political groupings and the chairman of the parliament’s civil liberties committee in Brussels “as soon as possible” – maybe as early as next week.
The billionaire social media tycoon has resisted repeated requests from the UK Parliament to answer MPs’ questions in person, despite a warning from the chairman of the Commons Culture Committee Damian Collins that he could issue a summons requiring Zuckerberg’s attendance next time he is in the UK.
Both parliaments want to question Mr Zuckerberg about the alleged use of Facebook users’ personal information to target political adverts in campaigns including the Brexit referendum.
In a tweet, Mr Tajani said: “Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation.
“I welcome Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500 million Europeans. It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence.”
Mr Zuckerberg’s meeting with European Parliament group leaders will be held behind closed doors.
But members of the civil liberties committee will have an opportunity a few weeks later for in-depth questions on issues of personal data protection in a public hearing with representatives of Facebook and other companies.
“Particular emphasis will be placed on the potential impact on electoral processes in Europe,” said the European Parliament president.
“Parliament’s priority is to ensure the proper functioning of the digital market, with a high level of protection for personal data, effective rules on copyright and the protection of consumer rights.
“Web giants must be responsible for the content they publish, including blatantly false news and illegal content.
“Freedom must always be accompanied by responsibility.”