DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is signing on with counterparts in 37 states and territories asking for answers about the use of member information from the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Miller says they have several questions after it was revealed that the data of at least 50 million Facebook profiles may have been misused by research firm Cambridge Analytica. “What warning, what information was given to people on their network that this might happen. And what did they do to monitor this so-called researcher was using the data in a way that he pledged to,” Miller says. The letter questions whether the terms of service for users was clear and understandable. Miller says it appears it was not.
“I think it was far from clear and understandable for people to know that their data might be used this way,” Miller says. “And I don’t think that anybody conceived that there would be 50 million people affected this way and they had no notice that this could happen.” The Federal Trade Commission on Monday confirmed that it has opened an investigation into Facebook. Thousands of users have canceled their accounts — and Miller says that is one thing that should help the Attorneys General get answers.
“Yeah, I think the public pressure of some people dropping off and of government officials and press and the public generally has really gotten their attention in a way that we haven’t before,” according to Miller. Miller isn’t sure if the users may have some legal recourse over how their data was used.
“It’s not clear whether there would be a lawsuit that would be possible — we are sort of checking into that and looking into that,” Miller says. “The main thing we want to know is get more information from Facebook and get some real assurances that we can count on that this is just not going to happen again.”
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and he announced Monday that he will be holding a hearing on data privacy on April 10th. Grassley has invited Facebook CEO Zuckerberg to testify at the hearing to discuss Facebook’s past and future policies regarding the protection and monitoring of consumer data.
Information from Grassley’s office says the hearing “will broadly cover privacy standards for the collection, retention and dissemination of consumer data for commercial use. It will also examine how such data may be misused or improperly transferred and what steps companies like Facebook can take to better protect personal information of users and ensure more transparency in the process.”
Grassley also invited Google and Twitter’s CEO’s to discuss the future of data privacy in the social media industry and how to develop “rules of the road” that encourage companies to develop tailored approaches to privacy that satisfy consumer expectations while maintaining incentives for innovation.