Facebook asks judge to dismiss DC lawsuit stemming from Cambridge Analytica scandal

A judge on Friday heard arguments from Facebook and the District of Columbia regarding the D.C. government's lawsuit arguing the social media giant harmed city residents by failing to protect their data.
 
Facebook asked the court to dismiss the case, and D.C. Superior Court Judge Fern Saddler said she will decide whether to do so by the end of April.
 
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The lawsuit stems from revelations last year that Cambridge Analytica obtained data on hundreds of millions of Facebook users from a researcher who collected the information through a third-party app on the platform.
 
D.C. says about 340,000 residents who use the platform were harmed by the company's failing to inform them about sharing info with third parties. Facebook failed to enforce its own privacy policies, and that its privacy settings in general are "ambiguous and confusing," D.C. argues.
 
The lawsuit is seeking civil penalties, restitution for Facebook users in the district and an order for Facebook to change its privacy policies.
 
Facebook on Friday laid out its argument for dismissing the lawsuit, saying D.C. does not have proper jurisdiction over Facebook. Attorneys for D.C. disputed that argument.
 
Lawyers for Facebook and D.C. also wrangled over whether the court should unseal documents that show Facebook employees in D.C. discussing Cambridge Analytica months before Facebook admitted it knew about the firm's activities.
 
Facebook lawyers said the document shows D.C. employees discussing Cambridge Analytica in a "data-scraping" context unrelated to the complaints raised in the D.C. lawsuit.
 
D.C. and Facebook lawyers said they are negotiating over which segments of the document to redact if it is unsealed.
 
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) filed the lawsuit in December, marking the first major legal action against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica controversy by an attorney general.
 
“The Office of the Attorney General brought this case to hold Facebook accountable for misleading consumers and failing to protect the data of nearly half of District residents," Racine said in a statement Friday. "Today, we made strong arguments before the D.C. Superior Court for why this lawsuit on behalf of harmed District residents should continue to move forward in our local courts. Our ultimate goal with this lawsuit is to ensure that Facebook lives up to its promise to protect its users’ privacy.”
 
Joshua Lipshutz, a lawyer representing Facebook, argued Friday that D.C. does not have any argument for jurisdiction beyond "users who live in the District use Facebook."
 
"That would be true in every state and nearly every country in the world," Lipshutz said.
 
He argued that the court should stay the case until other legal actions against Facebook in other jurisdictions come to an end.
 
The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering a record fine against Facebook for its conduct during the Cambridge Analytica controversy, and Facebook is facing a class-action complaint in California from users across the country alleging that Facebook left them vulnerable to identity theft.