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Facebook sued by DC attorney general over alleged privacy violations – CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

James Martin/CNET

Facebook is being sued by the DC attorney general over allegations it failed to safeguard the personal data of its users.

The company's "lax oversight and misleading privacy settings" allowed UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to gain access to the personal information of Facebook users without their permission, according to the attorney general's office.

"Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used," said DC attorney general Karl Racine in a statement. "Today's lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users' privacy."

The lawsuit comes as Facebook is grappling with concerns about whether it did enough to protect the privacy and security of the data its users share on the social network. Meanwhile, lawmakers and regulators have been under pressure to take action against the social media giant.

Yesterday, an investigation by The New York Times showed that Facebook gave greater access to user data than was previously disclosed, allowing Netflix and Spotify to read Facebook users' private messages. Last week, the company said a bug may have exposed the private photos of up to 6.8 million Facebook users to outside developers.

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that it's "reviewing the complaint" and "look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere."

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook mislead users about the security of their data and failed to properly monitor the data gathering by third-party apps. The company's privacy settings aren't easy for people to use and took too long to disclose users about the data harvested by Cambridge Analytica, according to the lawsuit.

In March, revelations surfaced that Cambridge Analytica, which had ties to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, had improperly gained access to the data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

The consultancy obtained the data from a personality quiz app called "thisisyourdigitallife," a personality quiz, which was billed as "a research app used by psychologists."

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