The suspended chief executive of Cambridge Analytica is to be hauled back before MPs after this week’s explosive allegations about his firm’s use of Facebook user data.
Alexander Nix, who was suspended from the controversial data firm after he was filmed by undercover reporters boasting about CA’s role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, must return to the Culture, Media And Sport Committee to explain “inconsistencies” in the evidence he gave in February.
Damian Collins, chairman of the committee, said in a letter to Nix: “We are also interested in asking you again about your claim that you ‘do not work with Facebook data, and […] do not have Facebook data’.”
The letter continued: “Giving false statements to a Select Committee is a very serious matter,” Mr Collins said, adding that he would like a response by Tuesday.
At that evidence hearing on February 27, Nix assured MPs that Cambridge Analytica “do not work with Facebook data... do not have Facebook data”.
A series of reports in The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 News have accused the company of harvesting the data of 50 million Facebook users as part of its work with political campaigners.
Collins’ letter continued: “You agreed at the 27 February session to send a series of further follow-up answers; we have not received these. We call on you to answer them now.”
He has given Nix until Tuesday to respond.
The committee has also asked Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to appear before them to explain how it let a third party harvest so many people’s data.
Zuckerberg also faces questions from the US Senate, including how many firms were allowed to harvest data via a loophole that meant users could unwittingly give away their Facebook friends data as well their own.
Facebook did not close the loophole until 2014.
Dr Aleksander Kogan, a Cambridge University academic who previously worked with Cambridge Analytica, has claimed Nix misled MPs at an earlier hearing when he suggested he had not been supplied data by the academic’s firm Global Science Research.
Nix told MPs that GSR “did some research for us back in 2014” that “proved to be fruitless”.
Asked if that was wrong, Dr Kogan told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “I believe it is. I don’t see why that would be accurate.”
Nix left the Cambridge Anayltica’s central London offices by car on Tuesday after he was suspended, trying to avoid a pack of reporters who had been camped outside the office all day.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has a court hearing on Friday on its application for a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s offices, which it has been seeking to do since Tuesday.