Wednesday, 13 November, 2019


California reveals Facebook probe, says social media company stonewalling investigation

Pros and cons of political ads on social media RS_00022204 California reveals it is investigating Facebook over privacy practices
Conrad Doyle | 07 November, 2019, 21:40

California attorney general says he has been investigating Facebook's privacy practices since 2018.

In June, Becerra says he sent a second set of subpoenas following news reports about Facebook's privacy failings and the company's response to them have been "patently deficient".

He also called for anyone in the tech community with inside information that might help with the Facebook investigation to call or share what they know at the attorney general's website. "But we must move our investigation forward", Becerra was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"Facebook broadly refuses to answer the interrogatories or comply with the subpoena", the filing said.

Not only that but Facebook flat out refused to "search communications involving senior executives", meaning that it refused to search for relevant information in the emails and other communications of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, among others.

"We have cooperated extensively with the State of California's investigation", Facebook vice president of state and local policy Will Castleberry said.

Because Facebook has failed to comply with the lawfully issued investigative subpoena and interrogatories served on June 17, 2019, Attorney General Becerra has filed a petition in superior court pursuant to section 11188 of the Government Code to enforce compliance with the Attorney General's investigative subpoena and interrogatories. "To date we have provided thousands of pages of written responses and hundreds of thousands of documents".

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra quickly shot back: "It appears we have different definitions of cooperation", noting there were 25 requests the company declined to answer or provide documents to fulfill.

The state says it demanded information from the social media giant in June for an investigation launched a year ago and that the company's response has been "patently deficient".

In July, the US Federal Trade Commission imposed a 5 billion-dollar fine on Facebook for lax management of user data.

"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.

If the court determines Facebook has indeed not been responsive to the attorney general's investigation, it can force the company to turn these documents over to investigators.

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