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Washington DC sues Facebook over data misuse

By Andrew Blustein, Reporter

December 19, 2018 | 3 min read

The attorney general of Washington DC filed suit against Facebook today (19 December) over the misuse of user data following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Once again, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are in the spotlight

Once again, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are in the spotlight

Prosecutors are accusing the tech giant of violating DC's consumer protection laws. The lawsuit highlights five transgressions:

  • Facebook misrepresented the extent to which it protects consumer data from third-party developers
  • Facebook failed to adequately disclose to its users how their data can be accessed without their knowledge by third-party applications
  • Facebook failed to disclose to users when their data was improperly harvested by third-party applications
  • Facebook's ambiguous privacy settings compound these misrepresentations and other failures
  • Facebook failed to disclose that it granted certain companies special permissions allowing them to access consumer data and override consumer privacy settings

"Facebook's consumers reasonably expect that Facebook will take appropriate steps to maintain and protect their data. Facebook tells them as such, promising that it requires applications to respect a Facebook consumer's privacy. Facebook has failed to live up this commitment," the lawsuit reads.

A spokesperson from Facebook told The Drum, "We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere."

The UK Informational Commissioner recently hit Facebook with a £500,000 fine over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw 87m users have their data improperly accessed for political gain. Facebook is appealing the fine.

Global lawmakers already have their sights on Facebook. Last month, MPs from around the world questioned Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice-president of policy solutions, on the company's poor track record of data breaches, fake news and transparency.

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