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HomeWorldD.C. attorney general sues Mark Zuckerberg over Cambridge Analytica

D.C. attorney general sues Mark Zuckerberg over Cambridge Analytica

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine on Monday announced he is suing Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook’s parent company Meta, for failing to protect Facebook users during the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

Zuckerberg so far has avoided facing personal legal repercussions over his involvement in various Facebook scandals.



The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, alleges that Zuckerberg oversaw discussions that allowed Trump-aligned consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly obtain the personal information of tens of millions of Facebook users.

“The evidence shows Mr. Zuckerberg was personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect the privacy and data of its users leading directly to the Cambridge Analytica incident,” Racine said in a statement. “This unprecedented security breach exposed tens of millions of Americans’ personal information, and Mr. Zuckerberg’s policies enabled a multi-year effort to mislead users about the extent of Facebook’s wrongful conduct.”

The lawsuit is based on information that Racine collected during previously filed litigation against Facebook. In 2018, Racine sued Facebook over the same incident. That lawsuit is ongoing. A judge earlier this year ruled against allowing Racine to add Zuckerberg as a defendant in the lawsuit, saying that adding Zuckerberg several years after it was filed would not help provide relief for consumers.

In today’s lawsuit, Racine alleges that Zuckerberg should be held personally responsible for the data breach because he oversaw Facebook’s day-to-day operations and opened up the social media platform to third parties.

The local angle: Racine’s lawsuit says that Zuckerberg violated D.C.’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which protects people in D.C. from deceptive business practices. According to the lawsuit, 852 consumers in D.C. installed the app that harvested user data ultimately used by Cambridge Analytica.

Racine’s office has been trying to depose Zuckerberg in the 2018 lawsuit but the company has not made Zuckerberg available.

Racine said in a statement that the lawsuit “sends a message that corporate leaders, including CEOs, will be held accountable for their actions.”

“Facebook looked into Cambridge Analytica and determined that it posed a risk to consumer data but chose to bury those concerns,” today’s lawsuit states.

Racine, who was previously under consideration for a spot at the Federal Trade Commission, has spent years pursuing cases against the major tech companies. He filed a case against Amazon that was dismissed by the D.C. Superior Court earlier this year, and joined dozens of state attorneys general in their antitrust case against Google.

What’s next: The suit, which will likely face a motion to dismiss by Facebook, could result in fines against Zuckerberg personally. Facebook paid a record $5 billion fine over the Cambridge Analytica scandal in a 2019 settlement with the FTC. Facebook shareholders alleged in lawsuits that the company paid billions extra to shield Zuckerberg.

It’s unclear whether if Racine’s suit will continue under the next D.C. attorney general. Racine has said he will not run for reelection as attorney general. His term will end on January 2, 2023.

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