A court filing has revealed more details about how
British lawmakers got their hands on sensitive Facebook
documents last week.
- Ted Kramer, the founder of a software company
suing Facebook, handed over papers after he “panicked”
following a parliamentary order from MP Damian
The court filing also reveals that Kramer was in
contact with journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who exposed the
Cambridge Analytica data breach, before he arrived in the
The UK Parliament seized a cache of highly sensitive Facebook
documents last week. Now, a court filing has revealed more
details on how the lawmakers got their hands on the papers.
Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Committee, secured the documents from Ted Kramer, the founder of
a software company called Six4Three, while Kramer was on business
in the UK.
Six4Three is suing Facebook for killing its business —
specifically, an app named Pikinis that surfaced images of
people’s Facebook friends in their swimwear — when it tightened
up its privacy policies in 2015.
The documents, which could shed light on Facebook’s approach to
user privacy, are sealed under the order of a court in
California. But UK parliamentary privilege means Collins could
choose to publish them.
The filing, available here, confirmed a
lot of what has already been reported. Namely, that Kramer
was compelled to hand over the evidence on a visit to London last
week. After initially refusing, he was escorted from his hotel to
parliament, where he was told he could face a fine or
imprisonment if he failed to produce the papers.
But the update also offered an intriguing insight into Kramer’s
In a meeting with Collins at the MP’s Westminster office on 21
November, the filing says Kramer “panicked” after being told he
could be punished for withholding evidence. Without telling his
lawyers, he then handed over a bunch of documents that “seemed
relevant.” This was all done while one of Collins’ staff was
watching his screen.
Here’s how it is described in the filing:
“He opened his computer, took out a USB drive, and went onto the
local Dropbox folder containing Six4Three’s documents. He
searched that folder using keywords and found files whose titles
appeared to relate to the anti-SLAPP [Strategic Lawsuit
Against Public Participation] opposition papers that DCMS had
ordered him to produce.
“Mr. Kramer did not expect to find the precise documents Mr.
Collins had requested. Mr. Kramer had not previously attempted to
open the folder where these documents were located, and did not
previously know that he had access to them.
“Mr. Collins had two staff members present with him, one of whom
was directly viewing Mr. Kramer’s screen. Mr. Kramer then
transferred to the USB drive files he believed, based on the
filenames, to be subject to Mr. Collins’ request. Mr. Collins
watched Mr. Kramer as he did this, and Mr. Kramer turned the USB
drive over to Mr. Collins immediately.
“Mr. Kramer does not recall the names of the files he transferred
but he was looking for any files he could access with names that
seemed relevant to the anti-SLAPP opposition papers, since that
was the subject of the DCMS Orders.”
The filing also reveals that Kramer was in contact with
journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who exposed the Cambridge Analytica
data breach, before arriving in the UK. They arranged to meet and
he sent her a calendar invite with the address of his hotel.
During previous discussions between the pair, the filing
says, Kramer told Cadwalladr that the Facebook documents were
stored on Dropbox. Cadwalladr also told Kramer that she’d
like to raise the case with Collins and the Six4Three founder
agreed to speak to the lawmaker.
There is no suggestion that Cadwalladr tipped off Collins about
Kramer’s business trip to the UK. The Observer reporter did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.
Credits: Business Insider