UK lawmakers accuse Facebook of intentionally violating data privacy laws

UK lawmakers accuse Facebook of intentionally violating data privacy laws

British lawmakers accused Facebook of "intentionally and knowingly" violating data privacy laws in a report published Sunday about social media disinformation.

The UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee reviewed a trove of internal Facebook emails which they allege prove the social media giant violated data privacy and competition laws.


The documents were obtained from a small app company called Six4Three that is behind a lawsuit in California against the company.

"The evidence that we obtained from the Six4Three court documents indicates that Facebook was willing to override its users’ privacy settings in order to transfer data to some app developers, to charge high prices in advertising to some developers, for the exchange of that data, and to starve some developers—such as Six4Three—of that data, thereby causing them to lose their business," the committee said in the report. "It seems clear that Facebook was, at the very least, in violation of its Federal Trade Commission settlement."

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Hill the company denies breaching data privacy or protection laws.

“We share the Committee’s concerns about false news and election integrity and are pleased to have made a significant contribution to their investigation over the past 18 months, answering more than 700 questions and with four of our most senior executives giving evidence,” Karim Palant, U.K. public policy manager at Facebook, said in a statement.

“While we still have more to do, we are not the same company we were a year ago. We have tripled the size of the team working to detect and protect users from bad content to 30,000 people and invested heavily in machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer vision technology to help prevent this type of abuse.”

The company has previously told The Hill that documents obtained from the Six4Three are inaccurate.

“As we've said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for their baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Six4Three, a controversial company that developed an app allowing users to find bikini pictures posted by their friends, sued Facebook in 2015 after the social network restricted access to the user data.

—Updated at 2:09 p.m.