Attorneys General to Zuckerberg: We Want Answers on User Privacy

The National Association of Attorneys General called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to respond to questions related to the company’s role in Cambridge Analytica’s apparent theft of user data. The letter comes amid word that Zuckerberg is planning to testify to Congress.

Facebook’s data headaches, which have compounded in the past week, are getting the attention of the federal government, but that’s not all.

The states have a few questions, too.

On Monday, the National Association of Attorneys General called on the company to explain the nature of the access that companies like the U.K.-based data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica had to personal information about Facebook users.

“These revelations raise many serious questions concerning Facebook’s policies and practices, and the processes in place to ensure they are followed,” NAGA stated in a letter [PDF] signed by 38 attorneys general, including those in 35 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa.

The AGs asked Facebook:

  • to explain how clear and transparent its terms of service are.
  • to detail the ways that it monitors and controls developers’ data-collection practices.
  • to discuss safeguards it has to protect users from aggressive third-party data use.
  • to detail how many users were affected by the privacy breach—especially those in each state or territory the signatories represent.

The letter called on the company to make it easier for users to set privacy preferences.

“Even with the changes Facebook has made in recent years, many users still do not know that their profile—and personal data—is available to third-party vendors,” the letter continued. “Facebook has made promises about users’ privacy in the past, and we need to know that users can trust Facebook. With the information we have now, our trust has been broken.”

The letter comes as pressure is rising on Facebook to do something to tighten up security—or the federal government may do so for them. In an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall, Zuckerberg said he would be open to some form of regulation.

“If you look at how much regulation there is around advertising on TV and print, it’s just not clear why there should be less on the internet,” he said. “We should have the same level of transparency required.”

Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before Congress, Bloomberg revealed Tuesday, though he has not done so in the British Parliament, where similar questions are at play due to Cambridge Analytica’s apparent influence on the Brexit vote.

(Anthony Quintano/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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