International Grand Committee on Disinformation


Ottawa, Canada

May 27-29, 2019

Canada, The United Kingdom, Singapore, Ireland, Germany, Estonia, Mexico, Morocco, Ecuador, Costa Rica and St. Lucia

Over the course of three days, the committee asked questions of and heard testimony from experts and academics, as well as representatives from major tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Twitter. Witnesses discussed the effects of technology and social media platforms on the way consumer data is manipulated; the challenges these effects present to privacy; and the need for international coordination to prevent a breakdown of democracy.

Both Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg declined to appear before the committee; as a result, a motion was adopted by the committee to serve Zuckerberg and Sandberg with a formal summons to appear before the next meeting, should either travel to Canada in the future.

Session 1 – May 27

transcript | video

Heidi Tworek
University of British Columbia

Jason Kint
CEO Digital Content Next

Taylor Owen
Mcgill University

Ben Scott
Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School

Roger McNamee
Author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

Shoshana Zuboff
Author of the Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Maria Ressa
Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor of Rappler Inc.

Jim Balsillie
Chair, Centre for International Governance Innovation

Session 2 – May 28

transcript | video


Jim Balsillie

Maria Ressa

Roger McNamee

Shoshana Zuboff


On May 28, 2019, the 11 countries represented at the meeting signed a Joint Declaration “reaffirming their commitment to protecting fair competition, increasing the accountability of social media platforms, protecting privacy rights and personal data, and maintaining and strengthening democracy.” Members signalled their intent to continue the committee’s work with these objectives in mind.

On June 18, 2019, Canada’s Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics published its report, International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy, summarizing the previous month’s three-day testimony.

The joint declaration signed follows:

*Building *on the foundations set at the first meeting of the International Grand Committee held in London, United Kingdom, on 27 November 2018, we the undersigned – parliamentarians from 11 countries around the world – met in Ottawa, Canada, on 28 May 2019.

*Recalling *the declaration setting out international principles on the regulation of technology platforms signed at that first meeting – which affirms the signatories’ commitment to transparency, accountability and democracy.

*Pursuing *the work of the International Grand Committee and focusing on issues related to Big Data, Privacy and Democracy.

*Considering *the market power arising from the concentration of data in large digital platforms and requiring that they should follow our respective applicable competition and antitrust laws.

*Reaffirming *that social media platforms should be strengthened privacy rights and data protections, notably through algorithmic accountability and the ethical use of algorithms and artificial intelligence, and regulation may be necessary to achieve this.

*Considering *that measures should be imposed on social media platforms to prevent digital activities that threaten social peace and interfere in open and democratic processes.

*Noting *that the public statements by certain social media platforms to address these issues do not align with their actions.

We do declare:

  • our unwavering commitment to foster market competition, increase the accountability of social media platforms, protect privacy rights and personal data, and maintain and strengthen democracy; and
  • our willingness to continue the work of the International Grand Committee with these objectives in mind.


Media Coverage

  • Reuters: Canadian lawmakers fume after Facebook’s Zuckerberg snubs invitation

  • Columbia Journalism Review: Canada hits Zuckerberg with summons for failing to appear

  • Global News: Tech companies and politicians meeting in Ottawa to discuss privacy, disinformation

  • CBC: Ottawa hearings show there’s political will to regulate big tech — but will it spur change?

  • Financial Post: Big Tech had better get used to some oversight, in aftermath of acrimonious Grand Committee hearings

  • Rappler: International committee begins talks on data privacy, disinformation

  • CNET: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg faces subpoena in Canada over fake news