Court Should Force Facebook to Share Documents on Privacy Practices, California Attorney General Says

Attorney General Xavier Becerra says tech giant has refused to turn over vital documents as part of state probe

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday asked a state court to force Facebook to overturn documents it has refused to share as part of an ongoing state investigation into the tech giant’s privacy practices.

The investigation into Facebook — led by California prosecutors, the FBI and the SEC — opened more than a year ago, after the company said up to 87 million users had their data unwittingly accessed by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Becerra made his request in San Francisco County Superior Court on Wednesday, claiming Facebook has failed to comply with subpoenas.

“This investigation involves serious allegations of unlawful business practices by one of the richest companies in the world,” the filing said, according to The Washington Post.

The filing added that Facebook’s “delays and refusals to comply with the Attorney General’s interrogatories and subpoena should not thwart this important and independent investigation into whether the company violated its users’ privacy and California law.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

According to the filing, Facebook has been unwilling to share or even look for email correspondence from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg on its privacy practices.

California’s move on Wednesday adds to a growing number of state investigations facing the company. Last month, 47 Attorneys general joined New York in investigating Facebook for anti-trust laws.  Facebook has also been skewered in recent weeks by pundits and politicians — most notably, 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren — for its stance against fact-checking political ads. Zuckerberg has argued it’s better for Facebook’s users to decide what is and isn’t true, rather than the company doing it for them.

“As a principle,” Zuckerberg said during a speech at Georgetown University last month, “in a democracy, I believe people should decide what is credible, not tech companies.”

California’s probe also follows a $5 billion settlement Facebook reached with the FTC in July over the company’s mishandling of user data.