Josh Hawley Launches Privacy Probe Into Facebook

FILE - In this June 11, 2014, file photo, a man walks past a mural in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. Some Facebook users received an unsettling shock Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, when an unexplained glitch caused the social networking service to post a notice …
AP/Jeff Chiu

Josh Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general, launched a probe into Facebook’s handling of their user’s private information.

“As the chief law enforcement officer in the state, I will pursue those who mishandle the private information of Missourians,” Hawley, who hopes to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in the 2018 Senate midterm election, declared in a statement on Monday.

Hawley launched a civil investigative demand on Monday, asking Facebook to disclose the number of times the social media giant shared private user data with a political campaign, or political action committee (PAC). The probe also hopes to find out how many times those political organizations paid Facebook for private data, and Facebook notified users about their potential disclosure of personal data.

Facebook’s reputation plummeted after reports revealed that the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica used the social media platform to gain access to the personal data of more than 50 million users. A recent Reuters poll suggests that only 41 percent of consumers trust Facebook to comply with American privacy laws.

 Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress in the coming weeks; parliaments across Europe have also asked Zuckerberg to testify as well.

Zuckerberg argued in a podcast with Vox on Monday that it will take a “few years” to solve the privacy issues facing Facebook.

“I wish I could solve all these issues in three months or six months, but I just think the reality is that solving some of these questions is just going to take a longer period of time,” Zuckerberg admitted.

The Hawley purge also asks Facebook to disclose documents, communications, and evidence about Facebook’s meetings with the 2012 Barack Obama presidential camapign, who also used the social media platform in a similar manner to Cambridge Analytica during the 2012 race.

Hawley hopes to discover whether Facebook engaged in deception, fraud, or false promises, which would violate the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, a local consumer protection law.

The probe also seeks to find out how many Missouri citizens were included in the Cambridge Analytica scandal; Hawley hopes to find out if any Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers, or other sensitive pieces of data were also exposed. The deadline for the probe is May 29.

House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called for the passage of the Browser Act in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News.

The Browser Act, if signed into law, would require Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon as well as content providers such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter to obtain a user’s consent before collecting and selling their information for marketing.

“We’re finally arriving at the point we people realize that something needs to be done,” Blackburn told Breitbart News. “This is not necessarily a step towards regulation; it is a step for Congress to take action. This is going to be a time to define what data security expectations we’re going to have in the virtual space.”

Hawley previously investigated Google for potential violations of the state’s consumer-protection and antitrust laws last November. Google owns roughly three-quarters of the search engine market share.

Hawley said in a statement in November, “I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants.”


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