Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg were subpoenaed to appear before the Canadian Parliament. The hearing is scheduled to take place today before the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy, and Democracy.
On Monday evening, Canadian officials learned through CNN that both Zuckerberg and Sandberg decided not to attend. Instead, the company would be sending Kevin Chan, its head of public policy for Facebook Canada, and Neil Potts, its director of public policy.
Facebook’s decision to send in alternatives didn’t impress Bob Zimmer MP — the chair of the committee — because the request for attendance was a subpoena. Now, Canadian officials can vote on whether to hold the executives in contempt of parliament.
“Knowing the structure of Facebook and how it is micro-managed right from the top, any change on the platform is done through Mr. Zuckerberg or through Ms. Sandberg,” Zimmer told CNN.
This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg has aired a request to appear before a country’s parliament. Last year, he turned down a request from the United Kingdom to discuss election interference and fake news.
The decision on whether to hold Zuckerberg and Sandberg in contempt is one that the entire parliament has to vote on. Although that doesn’t mean Canada can swoop in to arrest either of the two, it wouldn’t bode well for Facebook as a company.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN:
“Ultimately this is a decision for Parliament — we’re not in a position to speculate. We share the Committee’s desire to keep people safe and to hold companies like ours accountable. Right now we’re focused on engaging in meaningful dialogue with the committee and look forward to answering their questions. We look forward to answering their questions and remain committed to working with world leaders, governments, and industry experts to address these complex issues.”
Lawmakers from at least ten countries are expected to be at the meeting today.