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International "fake news" committee to demand testimony from tech giants

Tech giants facing calls to testify

An unprecedented group of international lawmakers investigating "fake news" is set to demand a public meeting with an extraordinary collection of leaders from the world's largest tech companies. The "International Grand Committee" — a collection of members of parliaments from countries around the world investigating disinformation, fake news and election meddling — is set to hold its second hearing on May 28, in Ottawa, Canada. 

On Monday, the committee will invite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of its parent company, Alphabet, Apple CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams, and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton.

The list, which was confirmed to CBS News by the committee's chair, Canadian Member of Parliament Bob Zimmer, includes several of the world's wealthiest people, who control the most dominant companies in computing and social media.

For the committee's first hearing in London on Nov. 27, Facebook sent Richard Allan, the company's vice president for public policy and a member of Britain's House of Lords, who sat next to an empty chair reserved for Zuckerberg. Zimmer said for the next meeting, the committee will not settle for lesser regional representatives.

"One thing that will not be acceptable that I want to have on the record is that Canadian representatives are not going to suffice," Zimmer said. "They're not the real voice of leadership in the companies, so we're looking at getting specifically the names mentioned to come."

The lawmakers, who attended the November, hearing hail from the U.K., Canada, Brazil, Latvia, Argentina, Ireland, Singapore, France and Belgium. Zimmer said this time around they will also invite U.S. lawmakers to attend. 

Zuckerberg is the only member of the current list who was previously invited to appear before the panel, known as the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and 'Fake News.'

He repeatedly declined. Instead, they grilled Allan on issues ranging from disinformation on the social media site before the "Brexit" referendum in 2016 to a campaign in Sri Lanka calling for violence against Muslims.

The final report from the U.K. investigation is expected to be released in the next few days. It has sought to shine light on the use of intimate personality datasets on more than 80 million people as part of advertising campaigns surrounding the "Brexit" campaign and Donald Trump's presidential run. The campaigns were run by a British company called SCL Elections, its American affiliate Cambridge Analytica, and a Canadian company called Aggregate IQ.

The upcoming hearing on May 28 will focus on "holding digital platforms to account... foreign influence in our democracies, and data as a human right," according to a Feb. 7 press release. 

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