Facebook to brief House Judiciary Committee on data misuse

After news of Cambridge Analytica's gathering of Facebook user data, the US House of Representatives wants to talk.

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Facebook has agreed to talk to the US House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee following the recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica's acquisition of boatloads of user data and its impact on the 2016 US election, according to a spokeswoman from the committee and a representative from Facebook.

Staff from the House Judiciary Committee are expected to be briefed by Facebook executives as early as Wednesday on the use of personal data from millions of Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which had been hired by US President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, the spokeswoman said.

Details of the meeting are still being worked out, so it's unknown who from Facebook will attend the meeting, she added. Bloomberg was first to report news of the meeting, citing unnamed sources.

Facebook confirmed it has representatives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday who will be briefing members and staff of the House and Senate Intel; Energy and Commerce; and Judiciary committees. But a spokesman wouldn't comment on whether the company will appear at committee hearings. 

The revelations that Facebook reportedly lost control of data associated with more than 50 million user profiles has already drawn the ire of lawmakers in the UK and the US. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have been demanding that Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, schedule a hearing.

The committee's spokeswoman said that the request from Democrats has been received, but she didn't comment on when or if a hearing will be held.

Data consultancy Cambridge Analytica, based in the UK, reportedly acquired data about millions of Facebook users without their knowledge, a move that violated Facebook's privacy policies. The consultancy then tapped that information to build psychographic profiles of users and their friends, which were utilized for targeted political ads in the UK's Brexit referendum campaign, as well as by Trump's team during the 2016 US election.

Facebook says it told Cambridge Analytica to delete the data, but also that reports suggest the info wasn't destroyed. Cambridge Analytica says it complies with the social network's rules, and only receives data "obtained legally and fairly." It claims it wiped out the data Facebook is worried about.

CNET's Ian Sherr contributed to this report. 

First published March 20, 9:37 a.m. PT
Update, 10:36 a.m.: Recast in light of confirmation from the House Judiciary Committee and Facebook.