Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine (D) on Wednesday added Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to an existing lawsuit alleging the social media giant failed to protect user data during the 2016 election.
This is the first time that Zuckerberg has been named in a complaint by an American regulator, according to Racine’s office.
The lawsuit, initially filed in 2018, focuses on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when a data firm harvested information from as many as 87 million people without their knowledge.
The case was brought under D.C.’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive trade practices. Individuals are liable for a company’s actions under the statute if they can be shown to have been aware of them at the time of the violation.
“Based on the evidence we gathered in this case over the past two years and the District’s investigation more generally, it’s clear Mr. Zuckerberg knowingly and actively participated in each decision that led to Cambridge Analytica’s mass collection of Facebook user data, and Facebook’s misrepresentations to users about how secure their data was,” Racine said in a statement.
“Under these circumstances, Mr. Zuckerberg should be held liable for his involvement in the decisions that enabled the exposure of millions of users’ data – and that’s why we’re adding him to our complaint,” he added.
Facebook initially filed to dismiss the lawsuit, but that motion was denied.
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