DC slaps Facebook with latest suit targeting privacy lapses

20 December, 2018, 09:12 | Author: Kristen Mcgee
  • JD Lasica

The District of Columbia sued Facebook for allowing data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data from as many as 87 million users.

Facebook Inc. came under renewed pressure from lawmakers following a New York Times report that the social media company allowed more than 150 companies access to more users' personal data than it had disclosed.

Also in March, the Federal Trade Commission took the unusual step of announcing that it had opened an investigation into whether the company had violated a 2011 consent decree, citing media reports that raise what it called "substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook".

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook misled users about the security of their data and failed to properly monitor third-party apps.

Cambridge Analytica, which worked for U.S. President Donald Trump's political campaign at one point, gained access to personal data from tens of millions of Facebook's users.

Bigger trouble may arise from the Irish data protection regulator, which is investigating Facebook for multiple admissions of security flaws, in what is being seen as the first major test of Europe's new privacy rules as dictated by the General Data Protection Regulation.

His filing said Facebook told users that it would protect their personal information, but allowed the app developer to collect and sell the data of users who had not downloaded or used the app.

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Uber Technologies Inc in September agreed to pay $148 million as part of a settlement with 50 US states and Washington, D.C., which investigated a data breach that exposed personal data from 57 million Uber accounts.

Cambridge Analytica in 2014 used data collected by a quiz app, which gathered information on those who used it as well as their friends, which numbered in the hundreds for many users.

The information of more than 340,000 District of Columbia residents was exposed but only 860 downloaded the quiz, Racine noted. "In our lawsuit, we're seeking to hold Facebook accountable for jeopardizing and exposing the information" of its customers. In addition, it seeks restitution for consumers, penalties and costs.

Racine said Facebook had tried to settle the case before he filed the lawsuit, as is typical during investigations of large companies.

The scandal led to hearings in Congress, after which and Facebook changed what sorts of data it lets outside developers access.

Senator Brian Schatz said the latest revelations highlight a need for tougher controls on how tech companies handle user data.

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