Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will discuss the social network’s data policies before members of the European Parliament, albeit behind closed doors, unlike his appearances in the U.S. House and Senate.
“We have accepted the Council of Presidents’ proposal to meet with leaders of the European Parliament and appreciate the opportunity for dialogue, to listen to their views and show the steps we are taking to better protect people’s privacy,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, said the event will take place in Brussels, “hopefully” as soon as next week, and will involve the leaders of political groups and the parliament’s expert on civil liberties, justice and home affairs.
“Our citizens deserve a full and detailed explanation,” Mr. Tajani said in a statement. “I welcome Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500 million Europeans. It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence.”
Other European politicians are opposed to the meeting, however, and argue that Mr. Zuckerberg should appear in a public setting akin to his testimonies last month on Capitol Hill.
“Glad that Mark Zuckerberg accepted invitation from @Europarl_EN and will come to Brussels to answer European questions on privacy. Pity this will not be a public hearing,” tweeted Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “There are more EU users on FB than there are in the US & Europeans deserve to know how their data is handled.”
Mr. Tajani, meanwhile, fired back Wednesday at Ms. Jourova’s critique.
“This is a decision of the Conference of Presidents. It is not your job to control and criticize the [European Parliament],” he tweeted.
Mr. Tajani invited Mr. Zuckerberg to appear before European Parliament members after it emerged in March that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm, amassed the personal information of 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge, including roughly 2.7 million European citizens, according to the social network.
Mr. Zuckerberg publicly apologized for the data scandal during his congressional appearances last month, but he’s faced scrutiny abroad in the weeks since for repeatedly refusing to testify before British lawmakers investigating Facebook’s user policies.
Damian Collins, a Conservative who chairs the U.K. House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, previously said he may issue a summons compelling Mr. Zuckerberg to appear before British Parliament if he continues to avoid being questioned in person.
Mr. Zuckerberg “has no plans to meet with the committee or travel to the U.K. at the present time,” a Facebook spokesperson said this week.