Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was reluctant to offer a straight answer on whether he would support a law that would require the social media company to obtain express permission from users before sharing or selling their personal information gathered by the site.
During Zuckerberg’s testimony before Senate committees on Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pressed him on whether he would support a law that would only allow social media sites to share user data if they gave their permission.
“You refused to answer whether Facebook should be required by law to obtain clear permission from users before selling or sharing their personal information, so I’m going to ask it one more time,” Markey began.
“Yes or no,” he continued, “should Facebook get clear permission from users, before selling or sharing sensitive information about your health, your finances, your relationships? Should you have to get their permission?”
Watch the exchange below:
Zuckerberg explained that the company doesn’t sell user information, but didn’t immediately comment on his views of such a law.
“Senator, in general I think that principle is exactly right and I think we should have a discussion around how to best codify that,” Zuckerberg responded.
But Markey wasn’t satisfied and continued to grill the Silicon Valley magnate on the issue.
“But would you support legislation to back that general principle, that opt in, that getting permission is the standard?” Markey pressed.
“Senator, as a principle, yes, I would,” Zuckerberg said. “I think the details matter a lot.”
The two went back and forth as Markey sought a definitive answer to the question and Zuckerberg stumbled through answers, trying to avoid explicitly committing his support to a law requiring permission from users.
Throughout the testimony, Zuckerberg often repeated that he is not opposed to regulation generally, but remained vague as to what sort of social media legislation specifically he’d be open to supporting.
The Facebook CEO was called to testify before committees in the House and the Senate after it was revealed that millions of users had their data improperly shared with a third party data analysis company.
The testimonies are the culmination of many calls for Zuckerberg to appear before Congress after other ethical and privacy issues with the site, including Russian operatives’ use of the platform to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.