back to article UK digital committee fumes: You didn't answer our questions, Facebook. (Psst. EU. Pass 'em on)

The latest missive in an increasingly tense written battle between the British Parliament's digital committee and Facebook has seen MPs accuse the data-slurping giant of dodging questions and skipping the specifics. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee had already launched an inquiry into "fake news" when the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guess what!

    No one cares about the UK any more.

    Time to get ready to eat chlorinated chicken and hormone fulled beef. If we want to sell, we're going to have to buy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Guess what!

      As Tim Warstall, formerly of this parish, has pointed out, that's because the EU makes our laws for us - why would Zuck bother getting a bollocking from people who have no power.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Guess what!

        @ disgustedoftunbridgewells

        "As Tim Warstall, formerly of this parish, has pointed out,"

        You got there before me. I was about to write how this is the right thing for Zuck as we gave up our authority to the EU and he is answering to those who have the authority particularly over data protection. Why you are getting downvoted I dont know.

        @ Lost all faith... is kinda right about how unimportant the UK is but thats because we answer to the higher authority of the EU, nothing to do with freedom to choose whatever food we wish to eat which has passed safety standards in the US and Europe.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Guess what!

        While the EU does write the laws on data protection, it is mostly down to member states to enforce them, and that is what parliament is trying to do by calling Zukerberg to a meeting. Also, part of this relates to election law, and the Westminster parliament does write that law.

        1. Lars Silver badge

          Re: Guess what!

          "While the EU does write the laws on data protection,". And I would claim there are Brits who would claim the laws on data protection are actually written by the British. Go figure, become a Brit.

    2. Fading

      Re: Guess what!

      Makes a change from Dioxin and Salmonella laced food products we have to take from the EU... Kentucky Derby fried lasagna rather than eastern European horse meat anyone? I'm not sure why any CEO would appear for a dressing down if they don't have to?

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Guess what!

        Kentucky Derby fried lasagna rather than eastern European horse meat anyone

        European horse-meat any day and especially the fraudulent origin "pretend-beef". I have seen it reared. The gypsies running this scam were doing it primarily on national parks land. There was a point where there were 3-4 "burger destined" groups of horses passing my summer house daily. My summer house happens to be 13 miles from the closest habitation and 50 miles from the closest city - one mile up in the mountains with a few hundred square miles of national park forests and meadows around it. That is where the horses were reared and they were all completely free range too.

        So, please do not try to compare it to USDA beef. Kentucky Derby fried lasagne will not do. It will have to Yellowstone fried lasagne or Yosemite fried lasagne to get anywhere near that standard.

        On a more serious note - size matters. Or as the Denmark foreign minister put it a while back: There are two types of countries in Europe - Small ones and ones that are yet to find out that they are small.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Guess what!

      I will never buy any meat that comes from the USA. Even top quality USDA stuff is shite and make French Horsemeat taste like a bit of 28 day dry aged Sirloin.

      If WE don't buy it then it will soon stop coming. But the likes of Tesco will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on £1.99 Chickens.

      It is all a lot of Baloney (s).

    4. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Guess what! is still on youtube, there are good reasons to have a look at it.

    5. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Guess what!

      Size matters, Facebook has more users in the EU than in the USA. The French, for instance, could also say "No one cares about France any more" because he didn't go to Paris, but they are not that dumb, perhaps.

      Apart from that, Zuckerberg knows the EU has been able to take actions against American companies, like Microsoft and others in the past.

      Then again I suppose you were perhaps just kidding a bit.

      The evidence he gave to the European Parliament wasn't worth much as he didn't really answer the questions, but he is not off the hook by any means.

      You find it on youtube.

  2. Blockchain commentard

    Why not just fine Facebook say, £10 million a day, until the Zuckerborg either capitulates or assimilates the gov't into his collective.

    1. ArrZarr

      Because there is no legal basis to start throwing fines around until after something is proven to have broken the law. You don't want to live in a country where that precedent has been set.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Because there is no legal basis to start throwing fines around until after something is proven to have broken the law.

        However, I'm fairly sure that pending questions regarding the pertinent details of FB operating in the UK (and/or the EU) are answered to the satisfaction of the government(s) concerned, their license to do business in those countries can be suspended.

        Which, to FB, will be as goodbad as a fine.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Men in Tights

          Stoneshop: luckily we live in a country where a few MPs can't shut a company down just because they don't like what it does. If Facebook has broken the law then the relevant authorities need to get involved and take them to court, prove it and then they'll be sanctioned. The purpose of the select committees is to collect evidence and report back to parliament so that it can change legislation if it sees the need.

          A committee can summons someone, hold them in contempt of parliament if they ignore it and, theoretically, parliament can imprison them. But it's not a crime and I don't think they'd be able to make imprisonment stick because of human rights legislation.

          Interestingly, the people with the most power to change Facebook - its users - clearly don't give a toss about any of this. If they did they'd be closing their accounts in droves and then we'd see some pretty rapid change from Zuck.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Men in Tights

            Maybe get the SFO involved - they're best of British when it comes to successful prosecutions*.

            From British Aerospace to Barclays - they always get their man.

            *According to some fake news I read... on Facebook I think ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      With regards this

      Depending on the commentator, this is either seen as an implicit acknowledgement from Zuck and Co that British MPs will ask the really tough questions, or as evidence that the UK is not as important on the global stage as it thinks it is.

      I'd just unleash the full force of GCHQ to do the fuck as they please with his shitty little website and see how smarmy the arrogant little c*nt is when it's found to be a piss-weakly secured shitbox. Only problem is they are likely already doing so to farm information and would prefer that not to be public.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The MPs disagreed: "To say that 'this is an inherent feature of how the Internet works' is disingenuous, as it is a part of how Facebook's web tracking and web features work, but Facebook is not the Internet, nor is the Web the Internet," the committee said. "Please comment on this point."

    Wow! I'm genuinely impressed. Looks like the committee has got someone who knows what they're talking about onboard. I might have been under-estimating MPs all these years.

    I think it will take more than a few years, as well as a mass public education programme on internet privacy to knock some of the arrogance out of these companies. The response I seem to get from most people on this topic is along the lines of "meh - I like cats and have nothing to hide, so it's worth it"

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: !!!

      It is correct that FB are incorrect about it's an inherent feature of how the internet works.

      It is, however, an inherent feature of how all tracking works - some information needs to be passed back to the tag provider's server at some level. Whether we're talking Google Analytics or any other tracking providers.

      This is no different to making an image request to a server, it's just that the image is one pixel by one pixel and transparent except that the image request has all sorts of querystring parameters containing user data.

      That image is requested on page load and there is no way for any tracking provider to know about the person loading the page before this information has been sent.

      If you're going to go after this type of tag, don't just go for Facebook. Go for Facebook on how lax they are about all the data they share internally to the platform.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: !!!

      Reading the articles on this issue, I'm thinking that Zuck doesn't dare go the UK because the committee has a clue and won't be snowed under by the BS he tossed at the US Congress. Now if the EU will take the hint and get some knowledgeable types to ask intelligent questions and follow up questions (not the dog and pony show from the US Congress), there might be some answers or (hopefully) users will take note and dump FB.

      Also is noted that FB is now "pre-installed" on Android phones. FB is definitely attempting to own the world and everyone in it, willing or not.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: !!!

      "Wow! I'm genuinely impressed. Looks like the committee has got someone who knows what they're talking about onboard. I might have been under-estimating MPs all these years."

      There are Lords on the committee as well, and they tend to know what they are talking about.

  4. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Being in possession of an offensive company..

    If the Zuk is on EU turf can we find a valid reason for a euro arrest warrant?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Being in possession of an offensive company..

      If you're downvoting please post a reason, it might be a good one that I hadn't thought about.

      1. LeeH

        Re: Being in possession of an offensive company..

        It's a touchy-feely environment on El Reg. People downvote or upvote because their emotions get the better of them; bugger the validity of the comment.

        I wonder whether there is an SJW downvote bot running rampant in the forums...

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Being in possession of an offensive company..

        "If you're downvoting please post a reason, it might be a good one that I hadn't thought about."

        Not liking someone or the business they run is not a basis for an arrest warrant. You made the suggestion, you provide a suitable basis.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Being in possession of an offensive company..

          "...not a basis for an arrest warrant"

          Unless your leader has Henry VIII powers.

          Looking at you Queen Theresa.


  5. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

    But are they going to ask the really serious questions?

    "Would you like a cushion, or would you rather have a booster seat?"

  6. Teiwaz

    British MPs will ask the really tough questions

    Well, that is clearly wishful thinking or self-delusion.

    Chances are they'll be several 'will my iphone need an upgrade?' questions by MPs who've staggered in from the bar, and will stagger back again afterwards with the undeserved inflated ego feeling that they've asked some probing questions and made a contribution and that it didn't tax their brain as much as they thought it might so they must have a knack for this 'IT' thing.

  7. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Easy to find out...

    ..this is either seen as an implicit acknowledgement from Zuck and Co that British MPs will ask the really tough questions, or as evidence that the UK is not as important on the global stage as it thinks it is....

    Simply make Facebook illegal in the UK. Designate it as a terrorist organisation, or something. If Zuk complains, it's the first. If not....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy to find out...

      If nothing else, that'll get Corbyn to un-delete his Facebook account.

  8. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Block FB until he answers them properly.

    Do an EU-wide blanket blacklist of FB unless & until Zuck comes over & answers their questions to their satisfaction. Keep the blockade in place until they're satisfied, that way it costs FB money (lost ad revenue) for every hour that uppity fuck thumbs his nose at you. He'll be on the next (private) plane to uncock that block just as fast as he can, the better to minimize the shareholder backlash for the profits he's costing them. And *THAT* is the way to hurt FB where it'll notice, right in the bottom line. Threaten to cost the shareholders a couple billion in profits & they may truss up Zuck like a stuck pig & deliver his ass to you like so many Hawaaians coming to a Luau.

    Block FB, cost them lots of money, & Zuck will either come over to answer every question you throw at him, or he'll bribe every person he can find in an attempt to make it all go away. The former will get answers, the latter will render him poor.

    1. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Block FB until he answers them properly.

      Maybe the EU could do something but I doubt the UK could or would dare. We really cannot afford to risk a trade deal with America because our entire future rests on that with brexit.

      Not that we're going to get a good trade deal with America any time soon but, if we don't brown-nose the pouty-faced orange one, embrace American exceptionalism, put up with everything which comes with that, it's going to be worse than the bad deal we are desperate to get.

      We're going to have to get used to being 'America's bitch', bent over and shafted, treated with contempt. It's what the people voted for. Apparently.

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Block FB until he answers them properly.

      What's the legal basis for blocking Facebook?

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Headley_Grange...

        Perhaps the various courts could consider that FB is intrinsicly violating GDPR in such a gross, blatant, intentional, & willful fashion that it can not be allowed to continue until & unless it proves it then operates in compliance with said laws.

        In the same way the government would freeze the financials (to stop the execs from emptying bank accounts to flee the country), assets (to stop them from selling everything off to flee), place a hold on stock trading, place the execs under arrest, & stop the company from doing business if said business were found out to be trafficking in Human sex slave prepubescent children. You can't allow them to continue to do the illegal acts while you drag them through the courts, so you stomp on them hard to stop them in the mean time. If the government is proven wrong then reparations can be made, but if they're proven correct then the business is completely liquidated to pay the victims. That isn't a perfect example, but it should get the point across as to why the government would slap FB in irons while this epic shitstorm settles out.

        Hope that helps. Cheers.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: At Headley_Grange...

          Shadow - they can't get them under GDPR because it doesn't become law until 25th May.

  9. alain williams Silver badge

    'Weasel words and wilfully blind'

    Well,of course MPs would recognise that -- it is what they frequently do when they do not want to answer questions put to them by journalists & similar.

    I suppose that it is too much to hope for a universal epiphany amongst MPs that we do not like it when they dodge questions.

  10. JohnFen

    Did they not see Zuck's Congressional testimony??

    If they had seen how he failed to answer them, they would have known what to expect.

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I doubt there'll be any quick penalty for his not attending. However, when the UK legislates on anything affecting his business his lobbyists are going to find they get much the same reception from MPs as MPs got from him.

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Interesting to note

    Following the link in the article to the EP conference of presidents with the Zuck opens a page with not one but two FB buttons, a standard and a Euro parliament on FB button so that you can be slurped twice by the Zuck while you are watching him not answering the hard questions they would like to ask him.

    1. Camilla Smythe

      Re: Interesting to note

      Check the page source code. I think you will find that the 'content' is hosted locally and will only cause a visit to a Facebook domain if you actually click on one of the items.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did you really put

    "British MPs" and "really tough questions" in the same sentence?


    "Clueless British MPs" would be closer to reality. And not just about technology.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British MPs - arguing from a position of weakness. Again.

    It's becoming the norm :(

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If people still choose to use this particular free service

    After all the furore, they deserve everything they get.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022