Mark Zuckerberg is finally coming face to face with a top UK official who’d like to regulate Facebook.
After avoiding multiple requests to testify in front of a UK parliamentary committee, the Facebook (FB) CEO is set to meet Thursday with Jeremy Wright, the UK secretary for digital, culture, media and sport. The private meeting is part of Wright’s Silicon Valley tour ahead of the release of a plan that will lay out how the UK government could better regulate internet companies.
In an interview with CNN Business on Wednesday, Wright said he plans to tell Zuckerberg that he should show up to testify in front of the UK parliament in order to explain Facebook’s approach to data privacy and efforts to stem the spread of misinformation.
“I think it would be an opportunity for him to make the case,” Wright said shortly after meeting with executives at Google (GOOGL), one of several major technology companies the UK official is visiting this week. “And if he doesn’t do that, there will be a suspicion — and indeed there is — that he doesn’t have a good case to make.”
For Wright, the visit to California with UK Digital Minister Margot James is a way to get input from the companies that will be directly impacted by any future UK regulation — something that is no longer a question of if it happens, but when and how.
Wright’s visit comes the same week as the release of a scathing UK parliamentary report on disinformation and fake news, which likened Facebook to “digital gangsters” that knowingly violated data privacy and competition law.
Throughout the 18-month inquiry, the committee repeatedly asked Zuckerberg to testify. The requests were rebuffed so many times that the committee said it would issue a summons for the billionaire CEO if he ever set foot in the United Kingdom.
In response to the report, Facebook denied it violated any laws and said it’s open to regulation. The company declined to comment on the planned meeting between Zuckerberg and Wright.
Last week, a report commissioned by Wright’s department