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Facebook demands UK government returns cache of internal documents

The UK parliament sent the serjeant-at-arms to the London hotel of an executive whose company is suing Facebook in the US to hand over all the documents relating to the case
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MPs think the papers might provide answers to questions to which Facebook had so far been unable or unwilling to answer

The UK parliament has made the most of its rarely-used legal powers to seize a cache of Facebook Inc’s (NASDAQ:FB) internal documents.

It is part of MPs’ attempts to hold the US social media giant to account after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg refused to fly in and answer their questions about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

READ: Facebook fined £500k by UK watchdog for Cambridge Analytica data breach

The documents included information about Facebook’s privacy controls, according to the Observer, which was the first outlet to report the story, including confidential emails to and from Zuckerberg himself.

In an unusual move, the UK’s serjeant-at-arms was sent to a London hotel where an executive of US tech firm Six4Three was staying.

The executive was told to hand over the documents. When he refused, he was escorted to parliament and warned he could be fined and imprisoned if the papers were not surrendered.

Six4Three is involved in court action against Facebook in the US, where the documents were obtained through legal procedures.

Facebook has demanded that the documents be returned and told the Observer: “The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure.

Legal battle

“We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook.”

But Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, hit back and claimed that the documents might provide answers to questions to which Facebook had so far been unable or unwilling to answer.

“This is an unprecedented move but it’s an unprecedented situation,” he said.

“We’ve failed to get answers from Facebook and we believe the documents contain information of very high public interest.”

Facebook, which has lost more than US$100bn in value since March when the Cambridge Analytica scandal was initially exposed, were up 1% to US$131.73 in pre-market trade in New York.

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