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Mark Zuckerberg to testify to US Congress as Facebook indicates Cambridge Analytica accessed data from up to 87 million accounts

Facebook indicated in a blog post yesterday that information of up to 87 million people – 37 million more than originally revealed – may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook also reported that this may have included data of more than 300,000 Australians. The company’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, said the company would make major changes to the way third-parties can access data on the platform. He also said users would be informed if their information could have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica has disputed the revised figure, saying it licensed data for no more than 30 million accounts.

The disclosure comes in the wake of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreeing to testify before the United States Congress in the wake of public outcry over the scandal.

In an interview with Vox on Monday, Zuckerberg discussed changes the company was making to its governance practices, and how it was responding to ‘fake news’ and abuses of its platform, seen in the use of Russian-managed pages and accounts on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Zuckerberg, who is CEO and holds a controlling amount of voting shares in Facebook, has significant personal power. Asked to comment on whether, as a result, the governance structure makes him less accountable, Zuckerberg acknowledged the company had failed in the past to be transparent about issues on the platform.

The saga provides insight into the challenges facing company leadership, particularly in the technology sphere. Public trust in Facebook has taken a major blow in the past few weeks, with the company seeing a drop in value on the stock market of nearly USD$80 billion since the story first broke.

As a result of the information concerning Australian accounts, Australia’s acting privacy and information commissioner today also announced that her office is opening an investigation into whether Facebook has breached Australia’s privacy laws.

Zuckerberg is due to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees on 10 April, followed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on 11 April. We will have more updates to come!

Copyright 2020 K & L Gates


About this Author

Warwick Andersen Technology Lawyer KL Gates

Mr. Andersen is a senior corporate lawyer with a focus on commercial, technology and sourcing projects. He has advised on large scale outsourcing projects, technology agreements for both vendors and customers, corporate support, privacy and telecommunications regulatory work. He has acted for government departments, large listed companies, telecommunications companies and technology suppliers.

Rob Pulham Corporate Attorney K&L Gates
Special Counsel

Rob Pulham is an experienced corporate advisory and transactional lawyer with an active technology and privacy practice representing companies in the energy, manufacturing, mining, retail, health and financial services sectors, as well as government and not for profit organisations. He has extensive experience advising customers and vendors in the technology industry, with particular focus on software licensing, data privacy and protection, and systems integration projects. In his role as a senior corporate lawyer, Mr. Pulham reviews organisational policies and practices regarding data privacy to identify key risks, develops and implements strategies to mitigate privacy and cybersecurity risks, and advises clients in the investigation of, and response to, data breaches.

Mr. Pulham also serves as a strategic advisor to his clients, regularly advising on large outsourcing and technology procurement matters including negotiating software licensing terms with ERP and CRM vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Salesforce, and on major systems integration transactions. He advises his clients on all facets of their technology practices, procurement and needs, including key technology procurement requirements and licensing issues (acting for both customer and service provider clients), marketing and advertising in compliance with Australian competition and consumer laws, website content and terms of use, and general commercial intellectual property and software licensing matters.

Allison Wallace, KL Gates, Commercial Technology and Sourcing lawyer, Australia

Allison Wallace is a lawyer in the Melbourne, Australia office of K&L Gates, working in the Commercial Technology and Sourcing Practice.