Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg could be held in contempt of the Canadian parliament alongside the company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg. The MPs warned the two executives to respond to a subpoena to testify in Ottawa this week.
Tech and privacy discussions for Facebook
On Monday, the privacy and ethics committee of the House of Commons will be joined by an international group of elected officials from across the globe. Starting today, they will discuss democracy, online privacy, and data collection. The committee asked Google, Twitter, and Facebook to join in the conversations and MPs, government officials and senators sit down to talk about privacy and hear the testimony of witnesses.
Note that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg were subpoenaed by the committee earlier this month to appear this week as witnesses. The two executives have consistently ignored the summons. Conservative MP Bob Zimmer noted that the two could be found in contempt of Parliament. He chaired the Commons committee and noted that ignoring a county of 36 million people will not send a good message internationally. He said that he expects and hope that the two will show and answer their questions.
What could happen if they don’t appear?
If Zuckerberg and Sandberg don’t appear at the parliament after the subpoenas, the committee could vote on a motion that holds them in contempt. The motion will go to the House of Commons for a vote. However, this is a rare move in Canada. A Library of Parliament study finds that while allegations of such behavior are not uncommon, the findings of such contempt are unusual. Penalties could be applied in such a case, but usually, the findings are considered enough.
This means that the contempt will only be a symbolic finding. However, NDP MP and committee vice-chair Charlie Angus said that it would mean that the company holds Canadian lawmakers as inconsequential. He said that the company has complete disregard for the democratic process. He added that it would be unbelievable for him to see a company be so dismissive.
Liberal MP Michel Picard said that the contempt finding would show how seriously Canada takes these issues. He said that the lawmakers are not hunting companies but are looking for collaboration. Facebook has not confirmed if either of the two executives will be coming to Ottawa this week. Company spokesperson Erin Taylor said that that they share the committee’s desire to keep people safe and make companies like their own accountable.