Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is, once again, being forced to fend off pointed privacy questions from Washington politicians.
In a letter sent this week to the 26-year-old executive, two prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives demanded answers about the company's latest privacy breach, which allowed third party applications to gather personally identifiable information.
Reps. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, directed their queries at Zuckerberg. They posed 18 questions, including: What guidelines does Facebook have in place for third-party applications to protect its users from advertent or inadvertent privacy breaches? And: Please identify the officials within Facebook who are responsible or ensuring that third-party applications satisfy Facebook's terms and conditions.
The pair of politicians requested a response by October 27. Normally this would be followed up by a committee chairman's threat to haul Zuckerberg in front of a congressional committee to be roasted slowly in front of TV cameras, but the House has been adjourned since late September because of the upcoming elections.
For its part, Facebook said it would be happy to answer questions.
Company spokesman Andrew Noyes said: "We look forward to addressing any confusion that has resulted from The Wall Street Journal article and we're happy to work with Reps. Markey and Barton to answer any questions they may have. Facebook is committed to safeguarding private data while letting people enjoy meaningful social experiences with their friends...We are continually working with developers and other responsible parties in the community to put in place further safeguards against violations of our terms."
In May, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, sent a letter to Zuckerberg asking about an earlier privacy flap.
Markey and Barton tend to be far more focused on these topics than their colleagues. Neither is, on the other hand, in a position to convene a hearing directly. Markey is no longer head of the House Internet subcommittee; he gave that position up in January to take over a panel focused on the environment and global warming. (Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat facing a difficult re-election bid, is the current chairman of the Internet subcommittee.)