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Friday, March 31, 2023

Zuckerberg to be added to Facebook privacy lawsuit

WASHINGTON. The Attorney General for the District of Columbia plans to bring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to consumer protection lawsuit, one of the first attempts by the regulator to personally subject him to potential financial and other fines.

Attorney General Karl Racine said on Tuesday that ongoing interviews and background checks on the case showed that Mr. Zuckerberg was playing a much more active role in key decisions than prosecutors had anticipated.

The Facebook complaint was filed in December 2018 with the District of Columbia Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook misled consumers about the privacy of the platform by allowing Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, to obtain sensitive data from more than 87 million users, including more than half of the county’s residents.

Facebook asked a judge to dismiss the claim, saying the company has never misled consumers. In June 2019, Judge Fern Flanagan Saddler rejected the motion and began a lengthy research period that included interviews with current and former employees, as well as reviews of Mr. Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony and interviews with law enforcement officials.

Mr Racine said the investigation found that a major product change in 2010 that provided hundreds of third-party developers with free access to Facebook user data was Mr Zuckerberg’s brainchild. These third parties included a scientist who then passed the data from Facebook to Cambridge Analytica.

“In these circumstances, the addition of Mr. Zuckerberg to our lawsuit is undoubtedly justified and should serve as a signal that corporate leaders, including the CEO, will be held accountable for their actions,” Mr. Racine said in a statement.

Facebook may file a motion to reject the Attorney General’s amendment to include Mr Zuckerberg as a defendant. The company fought the complaint vigorously, along with antitrust lawsuits filed by the FTC and nearly every state and District of Columbia.

Facebook lawyers have been particularly aggressive about attempts to name Mr. Zuckerberg in previous regulatory orders. In 2011 and 2019, his lobbyists and lawyers resisted attempts by the FTC to appoint him as a defendant in privacy cases. The company managed to keep its CEO from settling a $ 5 billion dispute with the FTC in 2019.

As a defendant, Zuckerberg could face financial penalties. Mr. Racine can claim up to $ 5,000 for any of the 300,000 county residents who may have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica data privacy breach.

World Nation News Desk
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