Judge rules D.C. AG can proceed with lawsuit against Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data scandal

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Facebook Headquartes Building 20

A judge rejected a motion from Facebook to dismiss or stay proceedings of a lawsuit filed against it by Washington D.C. Attorney General in connection with Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

In its motion, Facebook requested Washington D.C. Superior Court Judge Fern Flanagan Saddler to stop the proceedings. The social media giant argued that there is a class action case against over similar issues in California and the D.C. Court has no proper jurisdiction over it.

On Friday, Judge Saddler rejected Facebook’s arguments and ruled that the Attorney General’s case against it can proceed.

Allegations against Facebook

In December, Attorney General Racine sued the social media giant for allegedly failing to protect users’ personal data. He also accused that the company’s lax oversight and misleading privacy settings enabled third-party app developers use its website and collect the information of millions of users without their permission. The app developers then sold users’ data to Cambridge Analytica, which it used to help presidential campaigns target voters.

At the time, AG Racine said, “Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used.” He added that the company “put users at risk of manipulation…”

AG Racine’s lawsuit stemmed from Facebook’s disclosure that the personal data of 87 million users were improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Since the company’s disclosure of the breach, several U.S. and European regulators launched investigations into its privacy practices. Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy and shut down all of its operations.

If AG Racine wins the litigation, the D.C. Court could impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violations of the state’s consumer protection. There is a possibility it could reach around $1.7 billion if Facebook will be penalized for every consumer affected by the data breach.