Facebook sued by Washington DC over Cambridge Analytica data misuse

The first lawsuit comes as FB faces new reports that it shared its users’ data without their permission to Netflix & Spotify wherein they had the ability to read & even delete users’ private messages

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 9:20 AM
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook has been sued by Washington DC’s attorney general, Karl Racine, over allowing the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica gain access to the personal data of tens of millions of the site’s users without their permission.

“Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used. Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission,” Karl Racine, the city’s attorney general, said in a statement.

According to media reports, the lawsuit comes as the Silicon Valley firm faces new reports that it shared its users’ data without their permission, giving the streaming giants Netflix and Spotify the ability to read and even delete users’ private messages. It claim also stated that it targets users with location-based adverts even if they block the company from accessing GPS on their phones.

Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump’s political campaign at one point, gained access to personal data from tens of millions of Facebook’s users. The DC attorney general said in the suit that this exposed nearly half of the district’s residents’ data to manipulation for political purposes during the 2016 presidential election, and alleges Facebook’s “lax oversight and misleading privacy settings” had allowed the consulting firm to harvest the information.

An investigation by the New York Times found that FB had granted major companies far more exceptions to its privacy policies than previously known, making user data available through loopholes to companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify and Sony. The New York Times investigation revealed that it had itself been one of the companies granted access to some of the Facebook user data.

Facebook in a statement said, “None of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC.”

It also stated, “Facebook does not use Wi-Fi data to determine your location for ads if you have location services turned off. We do use IP and other information such as check-ins and current city from your profile. We explain this to people, including in our Privacy Basics site and on the About Facebook Ads site.”

Commenting on the lawsuit, Facebook said, “We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere.”


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