Attorney General Rosenblum co-led a bipartisan coalition of 37 state and territory Attorneys General in sending a letter demanding answers from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the company’s business practices and privacy protections. Recent news reports indicate the data of at least 50 million Facebook profiles may have been misused by third-party software developers. Facebook’s policies allowed developers to access the personal data of “friends” of people who used certain applications – without the knowledge or consent of these users.
The letter was led by Attorneys General Josh Shapiro (D-PA), Tim Fox (R-MT), Ellen Rosenblum (D-OR), Marty Jackley (R-SD) and George Jepsen (D-CT).
“As a bipartisan group of Attorneys General, we care deeply about the privacy of our constituents personal information. Just because they use Facebook, and sign-up for apps, does not mean consumers have signed a lifetime agreement to give up their privacy. We take seriously our responsibility to make sure that personal information is not used for unintended purposes. We have asked Facebook several important questions and we expect clear answers from them. We must be assured that a “breach” or “leak” of this nature will not happen again,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
In the letter to Zuckerberg, the coalition of Attorneys General raise a series of questions about the social networking site’s policies and practices, including:
- Were those terms of service clear and understandable?
- How did Facebook monitor what these developers did with all the data that they collected?
- What type of controls did Facebook have over the data given to developers?
- Did Facebook have protective safeguards in place, including audits, to ensure developers were not misusing the Facebook user’s data?
- How many users in the states of the signatory Attorneys General were impacted?
- When did Facebook learn of this breach of privacy protections?
- During this timeframe, what other third party “research” applications were also able to access the data of unsuspecting Facebook users?
The Attorneys General write in the letter: “Facebook apparently contends that this incident of harvesting tens of millions of profiles was not the result of a technical data breach; however, the reports allege that Facebook gave away the personal data of users who never authorized these developers to obtain it, and relied on terms of service and settings that were confusing and perhaps misleading to its users.”
The full letter and list of signatories can be found here.