Cambridge Analytica testimony dominated by heated exchanges

LONDON — The Latest on Facebook's privacy scandal (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

Heated exchanges have dominated testimony in Britain by the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica.

Alexander Nix vigorously defended himself Wednesday amid allegations the political consulting firm scraped Facebook data and used it to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election. U.K. authorities are also investigating whether Facebook data was used in Britain's referendum on leaving the European Union.

The hearing before the U.K. parliament's media committee lasted nearly four hours and was unusual in its sheer tone.

In one particularly heated moment, committee member Ian Lucas said Nix's claims of non-involvement in the referendum were "complete nonsense." Nix replied that he cannot be blamed for election results that lawmakers don't like, adding, "you can't simply put forward your prejudices onto me."

Nix says the firm is blamed in America for putting Trump in office, a vote that "put an incredibly huge target" on the back of his firm.

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6:15 p.m.

The former CEO of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica says he never meant to mislead British lawmakers when he denied the company had access to data on Facebook users.

Alexander Nix acknowledged Wednesday that he should have been clearer when asked at an earlier hearing whether his firm had Facebook data through Global Science Research, a company set up by Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan.

Nix says he should have said "yes" but that his "focus was on whether we still held the data from GSR, which was the issue Facebook had been most concerned about." He says the data was deleted at Facebook's request.

Nix is testifying before Britain's parliamentary media committee.

Facebook suspended Nix's firm amid allegations it improperly harvested personal data from as many as 87 million Facebook accounts and used the material in Donald Trump's presidential election campaign.

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5:40 p.m.

The former head of political consultant Cambridge Analytica is clashing with British lawmakers investigating the use of Facebook data in election campaigns. He denies his firm was unethical.

An unrepentant Alexander Nix appeared before Parliament's media committee Wednesday after previously refusing to testify due to investigations into the now-defunct firm. The disclosure of the firm's practices cascaded into revelations of other privacy gaffes at Facebook.

Nix says he's embarrassed at having been caught on camera boasting that he could entrap political figures by compromising them with bribes and Ukrainian women. But he insists he was entrapped by unscrupulous, undercover journalists.

Channel 4 News rejected Nix's claim in a statement.

Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy after former employees alleged that it used personal information harvested from Facebook accounts to target voters during Donald Trump's 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

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9:30 a.m.

The former head of the defunct political consultant Cambridge Analytica is due to testify to British lawmakers investigating the use of Facebook data in election campaigns.

Alexander Nix has agreed to appear before Parliament's media committee Wednesday after previously refusing to testify due to law enforcement investigations into the firm.

Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after former employees alleged that it used personal information harvested from Facebook accounts to target voters during Donald Trump's 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Nix's testimony comes just days after U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the European Parliament she was "deeply concerned" about the impact on democracy of the misuse of social media users' personal information. She said legal systems had failed to keep up with the rapid development of the internet.

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4:30 a.m.

The New York Times says Facebook has acknowledged it shared user data with several Chinese handset manufacturers, including Huawei, a company flagged by U.S. intelligence officials as a national security threat.

The report says Facebook said Tuesday the handset makers — Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL — were among 60 it had shared data with as early as 2007. Facebook told the newspaper it planned to wind down the Huawei deal this week.

The data included work history, relationship status and likes on device users and their friends.

The report didn't say the data was misused. Facebook did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, says he wants to know how Facebook ensured that data was not transferred to Chinese servers.

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