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Facebook executive to be grilled by unprecedented group of lawmakers from 9 countries


One of Facebook’s top European executives is scheduled to appear Tuesday morning before a first-of-its-kind gathering of legislators from seven nations, investigating the social media giant for its role in election meddling and spreading disinformation.

The lawmakers — from the U.K., Canada, Brazil, Latvia, Argentina, Ireland, Singapore, France and Belgium — have repeatedly asked for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before their “grand international committee.” But Facebook announced last week it will be represented by Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for public policy.

The hearing comes just days after a British Member of Parliament seized a cache of documents from an American businessman. Facebook has spent months fighting in a California court to keep sealed.

That businessman is app developer Ted Kramer, the founder of a company suing Facebook. He was in London last week when Parliament asked for the documents in a letter from Damian Collins, chair of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“We are requesting these documents because we believe that they contain information that is highly relevant to our ongoing investigation into disinformation and fake news,” read the letter. “In particular, we are interested to know whether they can provide further insights to the committee about what senior executives at Facebook knew about concerns relating to Facebook users’ data privacy, and developers’ access to user data.”

The documents were ruled sealed by a San Mateo, California Superior Court judge after months of legal wrangling between Facebook, Kramer’s company Six4Three, and media organizations. But the California court has no jurisdiction in Britain.

Collins indicated in a tweet Sunday that his committee has the right to publish the documents. He later said in an email to CBS News that a decision about that will be announced later this week.

Against this tense backdrop, Allan is expected to face a heated hearing with lawmakers who have traveled thousands of miles for the faceoff.