British Parliament seizes internal Facebook documents by threatening to jail a rival exec

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Parliament really just wanted all the bikini pics.


I know five eyes often spies then hands data to partner nations, but showing up and browbeating someone at their hotel is so analog.


Browbeating with a Parliamentary serjeant at arms is like being unexpectedly munched by an old tiger rug. Did they threaten to throw him in the Tower?


unfortunately the Ecuadorian embassy was full


This particular seizure would have been legal before any change in data seizure norms, though.

  • The documents were being carried physically into the country, and
  • The person surrendering them was not incriminating himself by doing so.

You don’t want to mace with the serjeant at arms.

I’ve never heard of them doing this sort of thing, though.


The only living person I know of who may have threatened to use that mace in anger is Michael Heseltine.

In the summer of 1975, Heseltine persuaded the Shadow Cabinet not to oppose the Labour Government’s bailout of British Leyland because of the risk to marginal seats (including some Cowley workers in northern wards of his own Henley seat). Industry Secretary Tony Benn thought Heseltine intellectually shallow (describing one of his speeches as “an awful old flop” and another as “another flayling attack”) but admired his ability to make headlines in opposition.

The infamous Mace Incident took place at this time during the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill, a measure whose passage had already lasted a year and seen 58 Committee sessions. The Speaker had ruled the bill to be hybrid, as it excluded one shipbuilding company (although there was dispute as to whether the company in question actually was a shipbuilder). All interested parties were therefore entitled to put their case to a special select committee. An earlier vote in favour of the Speaker’s ruling had been tied, and defeated after the Speaker had been obliged by convention to use his casting vote against his own ruling. The Labour Government now moved to suspend the normal Parliamentary standing order to allow the bill to proceed as normal. This time the Conservatives expected the Speaker to use his casting vote against the government’s motion to suspend the standing order. Instead the Labour motion was carried, after a Labour whip broke his pair. Amid riotous scenes of Labour left-wingers singing The Red Flag Heseltine picked up the Mace, the symbol of Parliament’s authority, until Jim Prior grabbed it off him. Accounts of exactly what happened vary but it seems likely that he was mockingly offering it to the Labour benches, not, as some alleged, “brandishing” it – an illusion caused by Prior pulling his other arm down. Thatcher was furious. Speaker Thomas suspended the sitting and made Heseltine wait until next day to apologise so that tempers could cool. Heseltine was faced with calls for his resignation from the Shadow Cabinet; he thought it would play well with the public, but in Crick’s view it helped to cement a reputation for impulsiveness and poor judgement.


I am no fan at all of our current British government, but still; if the sovereign parliament of a country where you do business asks you to answer charges on election meddling and subverting democracy (and we’re not the only ones here, either), you fucking attend. Zuck Fuckerberg.


somehow the UK Parliament got wind of the fact that he was carrying a laptop with all those discovery documents

Maybe Kramer told them. Sounds like a good way to fuck over Facebook without being held responsible for it.



Zuck and Facebook are used to dealing with laws and courts, but I guess they lost track of who makes the laws and appoints the judges.


San Mateo Judge Raymond Swope has a history of sealing documents in cases that he is presiding over. It is no surprise that Corrupt Judge Raymond Swope ordered these documents to be sealed to cover for Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg had a corrupt friend in Judge Raymond Swope in my opinion and it is pretty cool that the British parliament seized these documents.


Welcome to Boing Boing, new comrade.


Some of our correspondents don’t seem to understand how deeply the conviction is embedded in American culture that foreign authority has no power here — especially British authority. There was a revolution. People died. Telling sovereign parliaments to GFT is the whole reason America exists.

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…Except this is about Facebook’s operations in the UK. Yes, Britain’s laws apply to business done in Britain, just as the laws of the US damn well apply to all business done in the US.


They can get it over with and ban Facebook in the UK if they like.

They’ll wait a long long time for Zuckerberg to fly over and lick the boot.

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And kiss that money goodbye, plus very likely a serious hit in the rest of the Eurozone? You ARE aware FB is publicly-held, right…?

Yeah, FB can do that. No, it’s not terribly likely.


Is Doctorow’s position that documents are somehow special because they’re on a computer? It’s unfortunate for the guy if he gets in trouble with the US courts for allowing the documents to be seized, but maybe one should think twice before travelling to a foreign jurisdiction with such documents in one’s care, whether the folder they’re in is physical or virtual.


Here’s the thing. Anybody in tech should know better than to take any kind of incriminating evidence across borders.

You travel with devices specifically set aside for that purpose. That this guy thought a foreign government would abide by a court ruling not their own is the height of American hubris.

Oh, as for Facebook… See, this is what happens when someone is careless in handling your data or is willing to sell it to the highest bidder.



another part of me is mindful of the risks of the spreading norm of seizing devices and their data, without charge or due process, that the UK has pioneered, along with other low-human-rights territories like China. [emphasis mine]

Britain is far from perfect, but this is a bit of a stretch.

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