US judge seizes laptop of app boss who leaked Facebook info to British MPs
The software company co-founder who released a trove of sensitive documents about Facebook to a parliamentary committee has been ordered by a US judge to turn in his electronic devices for inspection.
San Mateo County judge V. Raymond Swope ordered Ted Kramer, the founder of Six4three – a now-defunct bikini-related app company – to pass over the devices on Friday evening.
Kramer is at the centre of an international dispute over a cache of documents about the social media giant, which had been kept secret as part of an ongoing US court case.
A lawsuit launched by Kramer – whose app allowed users to search for images of their friends in bikinis – claims that Facebook destroyed its business model and broke promises by revoking various elements of app developer’s access to data on the platform.
Facebook has faced immense criticism over its handling of users’ personal data, following revelations that one developer was able to acquire and sell a trove of information to Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm.
Kramer released the files, which were reportedly acquired by the Six4three app, to British MP Damian Collins, chair of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
According to a filing by his lawyer, Kramer met with Collins in the MP’s UK office, where Collins told Kramer he was in contempt of parliament. The filing says Kramer “panicked” and handed over files on a USB stick.
According to the Observer, the documents “contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal”.
Collins has said the DCMS committee plans to to release the internal records passed over by Kramer in the coming week, after removing personally identifiable information.
The social media giant, founded by boss Mark Zuckerberg, moved to have Kramer ruled as being in contempt of court last week, saying they were “extraordinary circumstances”.
“What has happened here is unconscionable,” Swope told Kramer and his lawyers during a hearing on Friday. “Your conduct is not well-taken by this court. It’s one thing to serve other needs that are outside the scope of this lawsuit. But you don’t serve those needs, or satisfy those curiosities, when there’s a court order preventing you to do so.”
Kramer’s lawyers complied with the order, forfeiting the electronic devices.