House intel chief: Facebook working on election threats
Washington – The head of the House Intelligence Committee said Friday he has been assured by the CEO of Facebook that the company is working on ways to prevent foreign actors from disrupting next year’s elections.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California met with Mark Zuckerberg and said the Facebook CEO showed a deep awareness of the threat to the elections from so-called “deep fake” videos and other technically advanced tools.
Schiff told reporters Facebook is “in the process of developing what I hope will be very strong policies on this. … I think he (Zuckerberg) fully appreciates the gravity of the situation.”
It was Zuckerberg’s third day of private meetings in Washington, following other sessions with top lawmakers and President Donald Trump. Zuckerberg also met Friday with the leader of a House antitrust investigation into the big tech companies and pledged to cooperate.
The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, led by Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., is investigating the market dominance of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The lawmakers recently asked the companies for a detailed and broad range of documents related to their sprawling operations, including top executives’ internal communications.
Cicilline and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the full Judiciary Committee, met in a separate session with Zuckerberg. Cicilline told reporters afterward that “Mr. Zuckerberg made a commitment to cooperate with the investigation, and we look forward to his cooperation.”
That cooperation would cover “a whole range of things,” Cicilline said, including providing the requested documents.
The conciliatory tone from lawmakers on Friday stood in contrast to declarations the day before from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a conservative who is the Senate’s most vocal critic of the tech industry. Hawley said he challenged Zuckerberg in their meeting to sell his company’s WhatsApp and Instagram properties to prove that Facebook is serious about protecting data privacy.
“The company talks a lot. I’d like to see some action,” Hawley told reporters.
Congress has been debating a privacy law that could sharply rein in the ability of companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to collect and make money off users’ personal data. A national law could allow people to see or prohibit use of their data.