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US Top Prosecutor Sues Facebook Over Data Breach Accusations

20 December, 2018, 09:13 | Author: Arnold Gilbert
  • Mark Zuckerberg's worth falls by $15 billion after a year of Facebook controversies

Facebook was sued by the District of Columbia on Wednesday for allowing data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data from as many as 87 million users.

But revelations of more privacy lapses continue to crop up, sometimes through breakdowns that Facebook has periodically disclosed, such as a software flaw that improperly exposed the photos of about 7 million users, or other times though media investigations such as a New York Times report documenting the company's agreements to share its audience's information with its partners, including Microsoft and Netflix.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook was aware in 2014 that the third-party app developer wanted to download the information about users" friends but "failed to monitor or audit the app'.

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.

It was revealed this week that Facebook's privacy controls had broken down yet again.

The firm used a benign-looking quiz app to gather information on Facebook users and their friends, including names, locations, religious and political affiliations and educational backgrounds.

Racine claimed in the suit that only 860 downloaded the quiz yet many more were put at risk with the sharing of their private information.

The attorney general of the District of Columbia has sued (PDF) Facebook, alleging violations of local consumer protection laws.

A Facebook spokesperson told the BBC: "We're reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere".

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

The lawsuit claimed that Facebook made it hard for users to control data sharing settings and didn't make it clear third-party apps have the ability to override some settings.

Lawsuits of this type take years, however, if Facebook is found guilty, the penalties will be massive.

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

The lawsuit is the latest blow to Facebook in a year fraught with privacy scandals and other problems for the world's biggest social network.

Facebook's foray into politics has already cost the company money.

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