The attorney general for Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit against Facebook on Wednesday for allegedly failing to protect users’ personal data and allowing Cambridge Analytica to gain access to that information for nearly 70 million people.
“Facebook further failed to timely inform the public that tens of millions of its consumers had their data sold to Cambridge Analytica, even though Facebook knew, or should have known, that such data was acquired in violation of its policies and was being used in connection with political advertising,” the lawsuit said.
It marks the first major effort by U.S. officials to penalize the social media giant for its role with the political consulting firm, which allegedly used the personal data to influence the 2016 presidential election, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the story.
The lawsuit also comes in the midst of additional scandals for Facebook, which admitted on Wednesday that it gave large tech companies access to some users’ personal information, incding their private messages. Facebook said it did so with the users’ permission.
Facebook’s trouble with Cambridge Analytica first emerged when the New York Times and the Guardian published shocking exposés that revealed Facebook had inadvertently allowed the firm to gather data from its users. Zuckerberg apologized for the scandal in an online blog post, explaining the company had already taken steps to address “this important issue.”“This was a breach of trust between [Aleksander] Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook,” he wrote. “But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.”
Kogan developed the app that allowed Cambridge Analytica to collect the data.