A little over a year ago, amid the global furor over revelations that terrabytes of ostensibly personal Facebook data had been harvested by now defunct U.K. political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, Process Nerd mused — somewhat presciently, as it turned out — over what, exactly, might happen if the House ethics committee decided they needed to hear from the company’s embattled CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, but he ignored their invitation. At the time, the committee was considering investigating that same breach from a Canadian perspective.
Fast forward to this week, and it looks like we may get a real-time demonstration of just what happens when parliament chooses to exercise one of its most fundamental powers — namely, to “send for persons, papers and records.” But perhaps more critically, we will see what happens if the target simply refuses to recognize their authority to do so.
Earlier this month, committee members unanimously signed off on a motion to issue formal summons to both Zuckerberg and the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to “appear in Ottawa and give evidence before” the committee on Tuesday, May 28 — which is, of course, today — and “remain in attendance until duly discharged.”
Until yesterday, it was still an open question as to whether the summonsed witnesses would appear as ordered, but late last night, Facebook ended the suspense by confirming to multiple media outlets that neither Zuckerberg nor chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg would be heading to Ottawa for the session. Instead, they would be dispatching the head of Facebook’s Canadian operations, one-time Liberal advisor Kevin Chan.