Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently spoke to lawmakers and government figures in both the US and EU about privacy and how Facebook handles data, and now Russian authorities are putting in orders for him to come to their country and testify on those same subjects. To be clear, Russian authorities are not planning to politely ask Zuckerberg to join them for a discussion; they’ll be issuing a summons to get Zuckerberg into the Federation Council, according to Speaker Valentina Matvienko. The statement was in response to a Russian senator proposing a summons for Zuckerberg to appear in court as he has in other countries.
Russian Senator Anton Belyakov wants Zuckerberg to come speak in the Upper Chamber of Russia’s Parliament, to “offer his views.” He says that this invitation is a response to a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to give more focus to the world of digital goods and services in Russia’s economy, and will hopefully result in Zuckerberg sharing valuable information that can help lawmakers to do just that. Lawmakers did not name any specific offense that they want to pull Zuckerberg in for, but it’s safe to assume that he will be talking about data usage and consumer privacy. Russian authorities have wanted to talk to him for some time about Facebook’s failure to follow a law stipulating that data on Russian citizens must be hosted on Russian servers. As an aside, one senator wanted Zuckerberg not to speak at Parliament because of alleged Russophobic comments he made, but others said that it would be better for him to come so that they can ask him about those remarks. Needless to say, how that talk goes could have an affect on how Facebook is treated in Russia.
Facebook has been under massive fire recently due to a scandal involving political consultant firm Cambridge Analytica, which has since shut down its US operations. In the wake of this controversy, Zuckerberg has been forced to speak to lawmakers in the US and abroad. The company has also had issues with fake news and hate speech. Zuckerberg’s proposed visit to Russia promises to be on similar grounds to recent conversations with international lawmakers, though it may take a more casual turn once the more serious allegations are out of the way; authorities seem keen on having Zuckerberg speak in some capacity as a sort of tech and privacy adviser.