What’s Going On? A judge from Massachusetts has ordered Facebook to turn over data on thousands of apps that may have mishandled personal information from its users, rejecting earlier attempts by Facebook to withhold key details from state investigators.
Massachusetts revealed in September that it was investigating Facebook over its data-collection practices, an investigation that stemmed from the company’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica. That privacy scandal has already led to a record-breaking federal fine of $5 billion for Facebook. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stated this is a big win for consumers and that we as consumers “have a right to know” whether the company broke the law and violated people’s privacy.
What Facebook Did: Last year’s court battle in September was based on Facebook’s acknowledgment it had removed “ten thousands” of applications for alleged violations of privacy. As a result of an internal audit of its third-party developers, Facebook found the device problems, but failed to discuss with the public or Massachusetts authorities precisely who it had suspended or many details of their alleged misconduct.
Why it Matters: Massachusetts AG Maura Healey argued that the data was critical, the data would be showing that thousands of apps, some with large numbers of users, posed a high risk of privacy breaches or acted in a manner that “may suggest data misuse,” her office said at that time. Nevertheless, Facebook fought to keep the facts to itself, arguing that it should be protected from investigators.
Finally, this past Friday, a Suffolk Superior Court Judge ruled that Facebook must hand over this information. Facebook now has 90 days to comply with the state’s request. Definitely keep an eye out for any other news stories or updates, we’re sure Facebook will not go down without a fight.