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Facebook exits group opposing California's proposed privacy law

The proposed ballot measure would require companies to disclose the type of personal data they gather and allow people to block sharing of it.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies At House Hearing

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday about the company's involvement in a data privacy scandal.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Facebook will cease funding an effort to defeat a proposed consumer privacy law in California as it faces scrutiny from lawmakers over its own privacy protection practices.

Facebook, Google and Comcast each have contributed $200,000 since February to the Committee to Protect California Jobs, a campaign to defeat the California Consumer Privacy Act. The ballot initiative would require companies to disclose the type of personal data they gather and give people the right to prevent businesses from selling their personal data.

The decision to withdraw from the group came as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrapped up his second and final day of testimony in Washington, in which he apologized  for the privacy nightmare involving Cambridge Analytica. Facebook banned the UK-based political data analysis firm last month, saying it had improperly received as many as 87 million user profiles leaked from its service.

"We took this step in order to focus our efforts on supporting reasonable privacy measures in California," a Facebook spokesman said Wednesday, adding later however that the company still found the act "flawed."

Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco real estate developer, is the chief proponent and funding for the proposed initiative, which has yet to qualify for the November ballot.

"We're gratified that Facebook has dropped its opposition to the California Consumer Privacy Act," Mactaggart said in a statement. "Now that they have seen the error of their ways, we hope they will work with us proactively to protect the personal information of all Californians, and support us publicly and financially."

In the Cambridge Analytica affair, Facebook has said that a Cambridge University lecturer named Aleksandr Kogan collected the data legitimately through a personality quiz app but then violated Facebook's terms by sharing the information with Cambridge Analytica, a firm later hired by the Trump presidential campaign during the 2016 US election.

Facebook learned of the infraction in 2015 but didn't inform the public. Instead, the company demanded that all the parties involved destroy the information. But now there are reports that not all the data was deleted.

Updated April 12, 2 p.m. PT To clarify headline that Facebook is dropping support for group opposing initiative, not opposition for the initiative.

Updated April 12 at 8:26 a.m. PT:  Added quote from Alastair Mactaggart.

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