Mark Zuckerberg has been formally asked to testify by U.S. lawmakers to explain during a congressional hearing on how 50 million users’ data reached the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. This hearing is following allegations which came into light by a whistleblower who stated that British consultancy Cambridge Analytica inappropriately accessed users’ data to build profiles on American voters. The data was later used to help elect U.S. president Donald Trump in 2016.
“The hearing will examine the harvesting and sale of personal information from more than 50 million Facebook users, potentially without their notice or consent and in violation of Facebook policy,” wrote chairman Representative Greg Walden, a Republican, and Frank Pallone, top Democrat.
The house Energy and Commerce Committee did not state on when they are planning on the hearing, however it will only take place once Congress returns from a two-week recess.
A spokesperson from Facebook confirmed that the company received the House letter and was reviewing it. However, he did not confirm if Zuckerberg would agree to testify.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg relayed an apology for a “major breach of trust,” and admitted mistakes and sketched out steps to protect user data in light of the privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm.
“I am really sorry that happened,” Zuckerberg said. Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data, he said in a Wednesday interview on CNN. If it fails, he said, “We don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.”
Zuckerberg said that even before the scandal broke, Facebook had already taken steps to prevent this from happening again. Zuckerberg said that in 2014, the company reduced access that outside apps had to user data. But some of the steps didn’t take effect until a year later, allowing access to Cambridge in the following months.
“One of the great mistakes I did here was I just didn’t ask enough questions,” he said. “I had never done a commercial project. I didn’t really have any reason to doubt their sincerity. That’s certainly something I strongly regret now.”
Since the scandal broke, Facebook shares have dropped by 8 percent slashing about $46 billion off the company’s market value.