Technology

Missouri AG subpoenas Facebook over political data practices

Missouri's attorney general said on Monday that he's subpoenaed Facebook about its data practices following reports that a political consulting firm improperly obtained information on 50 million users.

Josh Hawley, a Republican who is running for Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D) seat, announced that his office had sent the social media giant a list of 60 questions about data that it gives to political groups.

"I want to know, does Facebook truly disclose to its users the kind of data that it collects?" Hawley said at a press conference. "Does it disclose how it uses this information? Does it disclose how it shares this information?"

"We look forward to responding to Attorney General Hawley's questions when we receive the details of his request," Will Castleberry, Facebook's vice president for local and state policy, said in a statement.

Hawley also said that he would be investigating whether there was a nexus between Google's data collection and Facebook's. He is asking Facebook for information on what data its app collects on Android phones and how it uses that data.

In November, Hawley issued a subpoena to Google in an antitrust investigation, saying that federal regulators have given the search giant a "free pass." That announcement came a few months after Google was hit with a record fine from the European Union for favoring its own comparison shopping service in its search results.

Hawley at the time blasted the Obama-era Federal Trade Commission for not taking action against Google in its own investigation of the company's search practices.

Hawley was among the 37 attorneys general who sent a letter to Facebook last week demanding answers about reports that Cambridge Analytica, a company that was hired by the Trump campaign ahead of the 2016 election, obtained a trove of personal information on 50 million users without their knowledge or consent.

"There is no excuse for this irresponsible handling of user data," Hawley said Monday.

"As technology develops at a rapid pace, Silicon Valley needs to ensure that the proper protections are in place to guard consumer privacy," he added. "If they do not do this, my office will pursue those responsible."

Updated at 3:47 p.m. 

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