Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman on Monday joined 36 of her colleagues from across the U.S. in a letter demanding answers from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg amid reports that user information from the social media site was provided to third parties without consent.
“As the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states, we place a priority on protecting user privacy, which has been repeatedly placed at risk because of businesses’ failure to properly ensure those protections,” the attorneys general wrote. “… Early reports indicate that user data of at least 50 million Facebook profiles may have been misused and misappropriated by third-party software developers.”
The letter comes in the wake of the revelation that the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica improperly used Facebook user data to target voters, including for President Donald Trump’s campaign. The firm says it helped Republicans win the state Senate majority in Colorado and may have helped Cory Gardner in his 2014 U.S. Senate victory over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.
Coffman is a Republican running for governor of Colorado.
“Colorado consumers deserve answers from Facebook regarding their data collection practices, which have raised serious concerns about protecting consumer privacy,” Coffman said in a statement to The Denver Post. “Simply downloading an app should never mean that consumers give up their right to control what happens to their personal data or their friends’ personal data, nor does it mean that they have consented to having their every move tracked and their information sold to third parties for profit.”
The attorneys general who signed the letter include both Democrats and Republicans. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said he led the effort.
“Businesses like Facebook must comply with the law when it comes to how they use their customers’ personal data,” Shapiro said in a written statement. “State attorneys general have an important role to play in holding them accountable, and I’m proud to partner with so many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in this effort.”
Among questions posed by the attorneys general: Were Facebook’s terms of service clear, what type of controls did the company have over data given to developers and were there safeguards in place?
The letter added: “We expect a full accounting for what transpired and, answers to the questions we raised above.”
Zuckerberg and Facebook have apologized to their users, taking out newspaper ads to say as much.