On May 23, the District of Columbia sued Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, attempting to hold him personally accountable for the Cambridge Analytica affair, a privacy breach involving the personal information of millions of Facebook users that turned into a significant business and political issue.
Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, sued Zuckerberg civilly. The lawsuit says that Zuckerberg actively participated in significant business decisions and was aware of the risks associated with sharing user data, such as what happened in the Cambridge Analytica case.
Without their consent, Cambridge Analytica collected information on up to 87 million Facebook users. Their information is allegedly utilized to rig the 2016 presidential election.
In the lawsuit, Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook and has been the company’s board chairman since 2012, holds more than 50% of the voting shares and “maintains an unparalleled level of control over the operations of Facebook as it has grown into the largest social media company in the world.” Globally, there are around three billion users of the dominant social network. Over US$500 billion is the market worth of Meta (RM2.19 trillion).
And over five years after the matter initially came to the notice of the world, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former COO Sheryl Sandberg will be required to testify again before a federal court regarding their alleged role in the company’s infamous Cambridge Analytica debacle, according to Gizmodo.
Racine is seeking damages and penalties from Zuckerberg as may be determined in a trial.
In the document filed on Tuesday in the District Court Northern District of California San Francisco Division, Zuckerberg will be deposed for up to 6 hours and Sandberg for 5 hours in September.
The three-hour deposition of Javier Olivan, Meta’s chief growth officer, will replace Sandberg as COO. Depositions take place privately, so there’s no indication Zuckerberg or Sandberg would take the stand during a potential trial.
When Sen. Dick Durbin asked Zuckerberg some rather personal questions to make a point about users’ expectations for privacy, Durbin asked during his Senate testimony if he would feel comfortable sharing what hotel he stayed in last night, and who messaged. But Zuckerberg responded by nervously giggling and saying “Uhhhhh…no.”
“No. I would probably not choose to do that publicly, here, I think everyone should have control over how their information is used.” Zuckerberg said.
All this was to make a point about users’ expectations for a right to privacy, Durbin said.
“I think that may be what this is all about,” said Durbin. “Your right to privacy, and the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you give away in modern America in the name of, quote, connecting people around the world,” Durbin said. Durbin called a “question basically of what information Facebook is collecting, who they are sending it to, and whether they ever asked me in advance my permission to do that.”
“Is that a fair thing for a user of Facebook to expect?” Durbin asked.
Zuckerberg said he agrees and thinks “everyone should have control over how their information is used.”
Additionally, he said that Cambridge Analytica “wasn’t using our services in 2015” until later retraction and admitted that the company did begin as an advertiser in that year, “So we could have in theory banned them then, We made a mistake by not doing so. But I just wanted to make sure that I updated that because I … I … I misspoke, or got that wrong earlier,” Zuckerberg admitted.
“When we heard back from Cambridge Analytica that they had told us that they weren’t using the data and deleted it, we considered it a closed case. In retrospect, that was clearly a mistake. We shouldn’t have taken their word for it. We’ve updated our policy to make sure we don’t make that mistake again,” he added.
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