On Monday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over the recent data scandal, alleging that both parties violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County on behalf of “the people of the state of Illinois.”
It alleges Cambridge Analytica—a British political consulting firm—posed as an academic researcher in a successful effort to create a personality quiz app, which was installed by approximately 270,000 Facebook users in return for $1 to $2. The company collected the data, as well as data from their Facebook friends, totaling to as many as 50 million people. Cambridge Analytica is accused of harvesting user information to tailor make ads on behalf of the campaign of Donald Trump in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Furthermore, the suit also alleges that Facebook engaged in deceptive practices by claiming to provide strict data protection policies while, at the same time, allowing app developers such as Cambridge Analytica to accumulate and mine data vastly in excess of those policies.
The lawsuit seeks fines, along with civil penalties and all proper injunctive relief to address, remedy, and prevent harm to Illinois residents resulting from the defendants’ conduct.
However, Foxx was not the only local official to take action to address the data scandal.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan—along with 36 other attorneys general—signed a letter on Monday, demanding answers from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the company’s business practices and privacy protections.
Yesterday, Facebook announced that it is redesigning its privacy controls, making it easier for users to access, alter, and erase the data the social network has stored about them. While the changes do not add new privacy capabilities, they focus on design makeovers that aim to help more users easily navigate settings. For example, site settings on mobile devices are now accessible from one screen, rather than dotted around on 20 different places on the app.
A wave of backlash ensured after initial reports of the scandal, causing Facebook’s stock to plummet severely and resulting in an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The companies that have cut ties with the social media platform in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal include Mozilla, Sonos, Pep Boys, Space X, Tesla, and Playboy.