DC Attorney General Sues Mark Zuckerberg Over Cambridge Analytica Scandal

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine has sued Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. The lawsuit alleges that Zuckerberg was “directly responsible” for creating the lax privacy rules that allowed the consultancy to collect user data without consent, then failed to promptly notify users and ensure the data was deleted. It follows a failed attempt to name Zuckerberg in a similar lawsuit against Facebook itself.

Racine’s fundamental allegations have not changed since the prior filing last year. The lawsuit addresses an incident in which Cambridge University Professor Aleksandr Kogan collected personal information from approximately 270,000 Facebook users, plus information from friends who had not consented to the collection. Kogan passed the information on to Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, which helped shape former President Donald Trump’s campaign, in 2015. The details were not revealed until the incident was leaked in 2018 and Zuckerberg publicly accepted responsibility.

Racine alleges that Zuckerberg violated the consumer protection process law by misleading Facebook users about the privacy of their data and failing to disclose a violation of it. “Zuckerberg is not just a figurehead at Facebook; he is personally involved in almost every major decision the company makes, and his level of influence is no secret.” the complaint says:† “Within Facebook, Zuckerberg directly oversaw product development and technical work that exposed consumer data to misuse.”

Racine initially sued Meta (then known as Facebook) in 2018, and that case is still pending. But a judge said in March that he had waited too long to add Zuckerberg as a party to that lawsuit — something Racine said would send a message to other company executives. Racine’s office told The Washington Post that the new lawsuit is based on documents obtained during the Facebook lawsuit, strengthening the case against Zuckerberg.

“This unprecedented security breach has exposed the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, and Mr. Zuckerberg’s policies have enabled a multi-year effort to mislead users about the extent of Facebook’s abusive behavior,” Racine said in a statement from the company. After† “This lawsuit is not only justified, but necessary, and sends a message that business leaders, including CEOs, will be held accountable for their actions.”