Facebook Hauled Into Court Over Cambridge Analytica By California AG

Facebook is refusing to cooperate with a privacy investigation in California, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in court papers filed Wednesday.

“Facebook is not just continuing to drag its feet in response to the Attorney General's investigation, it is failing to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas and interrogatories,” Becerra's office said in a petition filed with San Francisco Superior Court. Becerra is seeking an order requiring the company to turn over a host of information about its privacy practices. 

“Our work must move forward. We are left with little choice but to seek a court order compelling Facebook to faithfully comply with our duly authorized subpoenas," Becerra stated Wednesday.

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Becerra also disclosed Wednesday that his office has been investigating Facebook since 2018, shortly after news emerged that the company had shared up to 87 million users' information with outside developers, including political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

“What initially began as an inquiry into the Cambridge Analytica scandal expanded over time to become an investigation into whether Facebook has violated California law by, among other things, deceiving users and ignoring its own policies in allowing third parties broad access to user data," the petition states.

Becerra alleges that Facebook failed to answer specific questions about privacy, including whether outside developers were able to collect information about users who had configured their privacy settings to prevent data sharing.

Becerra also claims Facebook refused to search through the emails of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg for documents related to privacy.

For its part, Facebook says it has "cooperated extensively" with the investigation.

"To date we have provided thousands of pages of written responses and hundreds of thousands of documents,” Will Castleberry, vice president of state and local policy at Facebook, stated Wednesday.

The company recently agreed to pay $5 billion to settle allegations it violated a 2012 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission by allowing Cambridge Analytica and other companies to harvest users' data.

Facebook is also facing other litigation stemming from Cambridge Analytica, including a class-action by users and a lawsuit by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

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