Alexander Nix, the ousted CEO of Cambridge Analytica, has pulled out of a scheduled appearance before the UK parliament.
Nix, who formerly headed the data company at the heart of the ongoing Facebook privacy scandal, was due to appear before the parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee tomorrow, April 18. The committee said in a statement that Nix “cites the Information Commissioner’s Office’s ongoing investigation as a reason not to appear.” The Information Commissioner’s Office, a regulatory body that issues fines on data privacy issues in the UK, has been conducting an investigation since last month. Earlier reports suggested that Nix was under criminal investigation, but the DCMS confirmed to Quartz that this is not the case.
“He is under investigation but does not currently have criminal charges against him,” the DCMS told Quartz over email. “The fact that he is under investigation does not disallow him from giving evidence to the Committee at this time.”
In March, the UK TV station Channel 4 carried out an investigation in which Cambridge Analytica executives, including Nix, were filmed offering illegal political intimidation, bribery, and blackmail to an undercover reporter. Nix was suspended by the company’s board on March 20 as a result of the report.
Channel 4’s report followed investigations from The New York Times and The Guardian, which revealed that Cambridge Analytica had received the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent, through loopholes in the social network’s privacy structures. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the US Senate last week to atone for the company’s lax privacy policies before inquisitive lawmakers.
Nix had previously agreed to be grilled by the UK parliament about his company’s involvement in the Facebook data harvesting and the reports of shady dealings uncovered by the press. But now that he’s backed out, the DCMS is considering formally summoning him to appear before the committee. It has yet to make a final decision, according to The Guardian.