Congress on Friday formally asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about what happened with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal — and what Facebook is doing to protect user data and privacy.
In a letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent Friday — which handles consumer protection, data security and internet issues — committee members discussed their plans to hold a hearing "in the near future" on how the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users was shared with Cambridge Analytica without their explicit consent. It is also looking into Facebook's policies to protect user data, especially when it comes to what app developers are allowed access to.
And the committee said Zuckerberg is the only person who can answer those questions.
"In comments to the press, you stated that the person with the most knowledge at Facebook about what Congress is trying to learn is the appropriate witness for a congressional hearing," the letter said.
"As the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook and the employee who has been the leader of Facebook through all the key strategic decisions since its launch, you are the right person to testify before Congress about those decisions and the Facebook business model."
Facebook offered a staff briefing earlier this week for Congress, however it did not answer all of Congress' concerns because the people at the meeting did not have information on what went on at the company prior to them working there, the letter said.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., told CNBC on Thursday that Zuckerberg should be the one to explain to the American people what happened because "the buck stops with him."
The Guardian and The New York Times reported last Saturday that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump's campaign, used improperly obtained personal information from a Facebook psychology quiz app to target voters during the 2016 U.S. election. The app's creator, academic Aleksandr Kogan, told Facebook he was using the information for research purposes, but sold the data to third parties.
Kogan has since defended himself, saying he made Facebook aware the information could be used for other purposes. Facebook said asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the information when it was made aware the data was shared without proper consent in 2015. Cambridge Analytica said it complied with Facebook's request, and did not use the information during the past election.