Some people say things there others don't like! - Copyright Facebook 2018

Members of the Westminster Parliament have been waxing indignant recently because Mark Zuckerberg – you know, the gazillionnaire who runs a global concern dealing with 2 billion customers – will speak to the US Congress but only sends minions to speak to them, those members of the Mother of Parliaments. This is of course entirely right and just – no, not their complaining, but that he won’t turn up for them.

He will though turn up to the European Parliament:

Mark Zuckerberg will appear publicly before the European parliament on Tuesday, ending a terse standoff with the institution, but further inflaming tensions with the House of Commons, which has repeatedly requested an appearance from the Facebook founder.

There’s a reason he’ll go to the one and not the other:

Mark Zuckerberg will face his second public grilling over Facebook’s use of personal data this week, after bowing to pressure from European members of parliament to live-stream a hearing on Tuesday.

Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said in a tweet on Monday that a meeting with Mr Zuckerberg would be publicised after MEPs revolted against plans to keep it private.

“I have personally discussed with Facebook chief executive Mr Zuckerberg the possibility of webstreaming [our] meeting with him,” the tweet said. “I am glad to announce that he has accepted this new request.”

MPs can just tune in like the rest of us, eh? No doubt an affront to their egos but about right given their place on this particular greasy pole of power.

The visit comes as the EU is introducing tough new data protection rules later this month, which Facebook has said it will comply with.

And that’s the good reason, that’s why MPs are not worth Zuckerberg’s time nor the pain of having to listen to their drivel.

Powers on such things as data regulation are made at the European Union level these days. MPs have, specifically and deliberately, given up their powers to make these regulations, MEPs now have them. That’s why no one is willing to use the scarce time of a valuable individual to take account of their whines. They’re irrelevant to the subject under discussion.

The answer being, of course, that if Members of Parliament wish to either protect or recover their importance in this modern world then they should reclaim their legislative powers from the other places they have ceded them to.

As we are doing and while it will be nice to have the power to rule our lives back in Westminster it will mean that whatever it is they dribble about will be important. But then into every life some rain must fall, eh? As the views of Guy Verhofstadt become less important, those of Emma Thornberry will become more so. Sigh.

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Those members of the Mother of Parliaments. Those members of England? “The mother of Parliaments” is England not the institution on the banks of the Thames in Westminster. England is the mother that birthed Parliaments in miriad other countries.


Not to mention several bicameral legislatures called something different. But perhaps England is the grandmother, it birthed the Westminster one, which birthed all those others. Perhaps it is the Mother of Parliaments in the sense of Mother Of All Bombs, a Big Mother.


Zuckerberg is on an Apology Tour, doing pennance for making personal data available to a consultancy aligned with Trump, and not doing pennance for doing the same favor, more actively, for the other side, four years earlier. Disclosing personal data (more precisely, letting customers do queries against its stock of personal data), on terms consented to by the Persons though not the European Parliament, is what Facebook does and will continue to do. To Tim’s point: Yes, ceding sovereignty to the joint in Brussels, and especially authority over data privacy, which is the issue at hand, MPs cannot get too… Read more »


Regarding this and most other important executive initiatives, it is the European Commission not the European Parliament that decides. Thus, it is arguable that MEPs are just as powerless and useless as MPs (though as Tim implies, the latter are far more despicable because they voluntarily handed over power to the EC whereas the former never had any power to begin with).