Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine is suing Facebook, accusing the social media giant of wide-ranging privacy violations.
“Facebook’s consumers reasonably expect that Facebook will take appropriate steps to maintain and protect their data,” the lawsuit, which was announced on Wednesday, says. “Facebook tells them as much, promising that it requires applications to respect a Facebook consumer’s privacy. Facebook has failed to live up to this commitment.”
The suit, which was filed in DC Superior Court, invoked Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, a firm linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The suit says revelations earlier this year about user info collected by Cambridge Analytica reflected a failure on Facebook’s behalf to protect user privacy and to follow DC’s own consumer protection rules.
DC, in its lawsuit, said it wanted to compel Facebook to take steps to avoid violating its consumer protection rules in the future, as well as pay restitution.
Racine told reporters this meant he wanted Facebook to develop “new protocols” to protect user data and said further that he hoped the suit would send a message to “other platforms in the broader technology space.”
“We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN.
The suit’s announcement came at the tail end of a year that has seen Facebook on the defensive in the political sphere after repeated revelations about how it collects and shares user information.
Cambridge Analytica announced it was closing in May, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in April after reports documented how Cambridge Analytica violated Facebook’s rules by accessing wide-ranging user data.
Just a day before DC announced its suit, The New York Times reported that Facebook had offered more user data than it previously admitted to companies including Microsoft and Amazon.