SALEM, Ore. — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg now faces the combined scrutiny of Justice Departments across the United States. Oregon state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced on Monday that she is one of five Attorneys General leading a coalition of 37 state and territory attorneys general publicly calling Facebook's privacy practices into question.
“As a bipartisan group of Attorneys General, we care deeply about the privacy of our constituents personal information. Just because they use Facebook, and sign-up for apps, does not mean consumers have signed a lifetime agreement to give up their privacy," said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
In a letter addressed directly to Zuckerberg, the Attorneys General obliquely reference recent revelations about consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, who have come under intense scrutiny for their apparent misuse of Facebook user data.
The letter lays out a set of questions for Zuckerberg regarding Facebook's policies and practices:
- Were [Facebook user] terms of service clear and understandable?
- How did Facebook monitor what these developers did with all the data that they collected?
- What type of controls did Facebook have over the data given to developers?
- Did Facebook have protective safeguards in place, including audits, to ensure developers were not misusing the Facebook user’s data?
- How many users in the states of the signatory Attorneys General were impacted?
- When did Facebook learn of this breach of privacy protections?
- During this timeframe, what other third party “research” applications were also able to access the data of unsuspecting Facebook users?
The letter attacks Facebook's stance that the profile "harvesting" employed by Cambridge Analytica was not the result of a technical data breach, accusing Facebook of giving a personal data of users who "never authorized these developers to obtain it, and relied on terms of service and settings that were confusing and perhaps misleading to its users."
The five leaders and signatories of this letter to Facebook are Attorneys General Josh Shapiro (D-PA), Tim Fox (R-MT), Ellen Rosenblum (D-OR), Marty Jackley (R-SD) and George Jepsen (D-CT).
Zuckerberg has announced his intention to testify before Congress, although he has refused to attend a similar hearing in Britain, where the investigation against Cambridge Analytica is ongoing.
SEE BELOW for the letter from the Attorneys General, addressed to Zuckerberg.