California AG Files Petition to Require Facebook to Comply with 2018 Subpoena

Published on December 24, 2020

On Wednesday, the California Attorneys General Office filed a petition in the San Francisco Superior Court asking the Court to require Facebook to comply with its 2018-issued investigative subpoenas into the company’s data privacy practices since the Cambridge Analytica breach.

When revealing his office’s probe into the social media giant, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra shared that his office makes its office’s work public only when there is legal action to announce.

We make our work public when there is a legal action to make public, otherwise we do not discuss our investigations,” he said in a statement to WIRED last month.

According to Becerra’s office, Facebook’s response has been piss poor. As 2020 approaches, it’s only fair to assume that Facebook’s New Year’s resolution is to have a lesser pile of shit and legal investigations on its plate by the FTC, lawmakers, and consumers.

Unfortunately, the social media still has obligations to fulfill, particularly with the State of California dating back to 2018, where Becerra issued investigative subpoenas against Facebook ordering them to produce documents related to the Cambridge Analytica data breach.

A recent statement by the AG’s office indicated its dissatisfaction with the social media giant’s response time over the course of the investigation and the necessity of stricter legal action, emphasizing the company’s slow response to its first subpoena.

A year later, the AG’s office sent a second subpoena to Facebook, requesting additional information for it to produce and respond to, which Becerra described as “patently inadequate.”

“[We] sent investigative subpoenas against Facebook…back in June 2018 to examine the company’s actions and business practices and any violations of user privacy,” Becerra said in a statement. “The responses we have received to date are patently inadequate.”

According to his office, Facebook provided no answers to 19 out of 27 of the questions the attorney general’s office sent, provided partial responses to six of the questions and provided no documents in response to six document requests.

Our work must move forward,” he added. “We are left with little choice but to seek a court order compelling Facebook to faithfully comply with our duly authorized subpoenas.”

In July, Facebook agreed to pay a record-breaking $5 billion fine to resolve the FTC’s investigation into its privacy practices. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Facebook has agreed to increase safeguards on user data.

The state AG filed a petition in the San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday, requesting the court enforce Facebook to comply with the subpoena and other requests.

Currently, Facebook is under investigation by 47 other U.S. states and territories surrounding allegations of anti-trust practices and a deeper look into the company’s 2014 purchase and acquisition of the social messaging app, WhatsApp.

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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