D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine Sues Facebook Over Cambridge Analytica Privacy Violations

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine Sues Facebook Over Cambridge Analytica Privacy Violations

Karl A. Racine, a Haitian-American lawyer and the first-ever independently elected attorney general of the District of Columbia, has sued Facebook over alleged privacy violations involving the data-mining firm, Cambridge Analytica.

Racine’s lawsuit alleges that Facebook misled users about the security of their data and failed to properly monitor third-party apps.

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A political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica was once managed by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. The firm gained access to personal data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their permission and used the information to target them. This is the first major effort by U.S. regulators to penalize Facebook for failing to protect its users from the firm.

The lawsuit comes as Facebook faces mounting criticism globally for mismanaging its 2.27 billion monthly active users‘ personal information in a seemingly never-ending flurry of allegations.

After the world learned about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook was summoned to congressional hearings. The tech company said it had changed the sorts of data it allowed outside developers to access, Washington Times reported.

But as recently as Friday, Facebook admitted that some users’ photos may have been improperly accessed by third-party apps. On Tuesday, new details emerged about Facebook’s extensive data-sharing arrangements with corporate partners including Amazon and Spotify, Washington Post reported.

“We’re seeking to hold Facebook accountable for jeopardizing and exposing the personal information of tens of millions of its users,” Rancine said on a conference call with reporters. “We hope this lawsuit will ensure Facebook takes better care with its data.”

attorney general
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, attends a news conference near the White House, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 in Washington. Eight Democratic Attorneys Generals call for measures to combat gun violence, issues that they have hoped to be able to raise with President Donald Trump. They say they have yet to be included in the conversations with Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


In March, a whistleblower said that Cambridge Analytica had created “psychographic” profiles about social-media users and targeted them with messages that preyed on their hopes and fears. Before it shut down, Cambridge Analytica gathered information on users’ hometowns, religious and educational backgrounds, friend lists and other data. This allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest insights on more than 87 million users around the world, including 71 million Americans, Facebook said.

Facebook has been the subject of a federal investigation involving the Security and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. The investigation focused on whether Facebook’s representations to investors regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal were full and accurate. The FTC investigated Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica and whether its handling of users’ data violated a 2011 agreement that required Facebook to improve its privacy practices.

Racine is gaining a reputation for standing up to Trump, wrote Jonetta Rose Barras, a D.C.-based freelance writer and host of The Barras Report TV show.

“On the national stage, he has stepped up to President Donald Trump and his gang of corrupt officials,” Barras wrote in TheDCLine.org. “Racine has worked with other attorneys general to defend the immigrant community from a federal assault, ensuring the continuation of D.C. as a sanctuary city. Equally important, he and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh are engaged in a lawsuit that accuses Trump of violating the emoluments clauses in the U.S. Constitution; that legal action gained traction recently when a federal judge ruled they can begin discovery, which could force the release of financial records and other documents from the president’s private company and its dealings at the Trump International Hotel in the District.”