Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The attorney general for Washington, D.C., sued Facebook on Wednesday, accusing the social media network of failing to protect users' data when it allowed Cambridge Analytica to gain access to personal information.
Attorney General Karl Racine said the data breach exposed nearly half the District's residents to "manipulation for political purposes" during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
"Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used," Racine said. "Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users' permission. Today's lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users' privacy."
Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research used the quiz app "This Is Your Digital Life" to gather data on 270,000 users -- and the users' friends, who did not participate in the quiz -- which it then shared with data mining firm Cambridge Analytica in 2015. The company used the demographic information from 87 million Facebook users to target political advertising.
In March, whistleblower and Cambridge Analytica co-founder Christopher Wylie revealed the data mining company was holding onto Facebook user data without the users' consent even after Facebook told the company to delete it.
Wylie said the company was initially funded by billionaire Robert Mercer and his boss was former Breitbart founder and White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Wylie said leadership at Cambridge Analytica wanted to fight a "culture war."
President Donald Trump's campaign used the services of Cambridge Analytica for the 2016 presidential election.
Racine's office sought unspecified monetary and injunctive relief in the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Facebook denied a report that for years it allowed more than 150 companies to freely rummage through personal data of its users.
Facebook issued the response Tuesday to a New York Times report that cited more than 50 former employees and 270 pages of internal documents. The report said companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and Yahoo were granted access to personal messages and users' friends without their knowledge.
"First, people could access their Facebook accounts or specific Facebook features on devices and platforms built by other companies like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo," Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of developer platforms and programs for Facebook, wrote in a blog post titled "Let's Clear Up a Few Things About Facebook's Partners."
"These are known as integration partners.
"Second, people could have more social experiences -- like seeing recommendations from their Facebook friends -- on other popular apps and websites, like Netflix, The New York Times, Pandora and Spotify. To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the [Federal Trade Commission]."
The Times report said Facebook allowed Microsoft's Bing search engine, for example, to see the names of nearly all of users' friends without consent -- and it gave Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada access to read, write and even delete users' private messages.
The Royal Bank of Canada said it did not have such access, while Spotify and Netflix said they were unaware of that access.
"Our integration partners had to get authorization from people," Papamiltiadis wrote. "You would have had to sign in with your Facebook account to use the integration offered by Apple, Amazon or another integration partner."