The documents relate to Facebook’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal

The House of Commons has invoked seldom used powers to seize a cache of documents relating to Facebook’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to reports in the British press.

The Observer newspaper said that the document s related to Facebook’s internal privacy controls.

The documents were seized from a board member of US technology firm, Six4Three, during a business trip to London. The House of Commons despatched its sergeant-at-arms to the board members hotel room to retrieve the papers. Initially, the Six4Three executive refused to comply, prompting the sergeant-at-arms to escort him to the House of Commons, where he was threatened with a fine for non-compliance.

The documents in question were obtained in the US and Facebook is disputing the legality of their seizure.

"The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure," a Facebook spokesperson said.

"We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook."

However, the chair of the DCMS select committee, Damian Collins, rebuffed this request in a strongly worded email, posted online.

"My understanding is that an order by the court to seal documents in a case like this is not common practice in the USA. However, this is a matter for the court in California, and not my committee… The Committee’s interest in the documents we have requested relates to their relevance to our ongoing inquiry into disinformation and fake news. We have asked many questions of Facebook about its policies on sharing user data with developers… We believe that the documents we have ordered from Six4Three could contain important information about this which is of a high level of public interest," the email read.

The UK government is continuing to investigate Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which alleged that Facebook violated the privacy rights of its users. 

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