Facebook will soon provide more answers about how and why Cambridge Analytica was able to amass Facebook user data for 50 million people without getting expressed permission.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent an letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday seeking more information about the company’s third-party data-sharing policies.
Wyden’s letter comes days after a pair of explosive reports surfaced alleging that the Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica was able to access the data of more than 50 million users via a third-party app.
In the letter, Wyden said recent reports raise “serious concerns about the role Facebook played in facilitating and permitting the covert collection and misuse of consumer informations.”
The senator included a lengthy list of questions and gave the social network a deadline of April 13th to provide answers. Among his questions, Wyden wants to know if Facebook has plans to notify the 50 million people whose data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, and why Facebook didn’t suspend the firm in 2015 when it first learned of the violation.
Other questions from the letter:
How many incidents during the past ten years is Facebook aware of in which third parties collected or processed user data in violation of Facebook’s Platform Policies? Please describe each incident, the number of users whose information was collected and misused, and what steps Facebook took to remedy the violation.
Has Facebook ever notified individual Facebook users about inappropriate collection, retention, or subsequent use of their data by third parties? If not, why not?
According to Facebook’s Platform Policy, the company reserves the right to audit apps in order to ensure they are “safe” and do not violate the company’s terms of service. In each of the past ten years, how many apps has Facebook audited? Please describe the scope· and findings of each audit.
“We are in the process of conducting a comprehensive internal and external review as we work to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists,” Facebook’s deputy general counsel Paul Grewal wrote in a statement. “That is where our focus lies as we remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information.”
Facebook also announced Monday that it has hired an outside digital forensics company “to conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica.” Cambridge Analytica is cooperating with that investigation, the company said.
Wyden isn’t the only official seeking more answers from Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica controversy.
Over the weekend, Republican senators Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio also criticized the company’s handling of the issue. And Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey said she would be launching her own investigation. Damian Collins, chair of the UK parliament’s media and culture committee, has also called on Zuckerberg to testify.