Zuckerberg Sued by DC Attorney General Over Cambridge Analytica Data Breach

WashingDC Attorney General Karl Racine aims to hold the Meta CEO responsible for his involvement.

Alexandra Garrett Associate Editor
Alexandra is an associate editor on CNET's Performance Optimization team. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, and interned with CNET's Tech and News teams while in school. Prior to joining CNET full time, Alexandra was a breaking news fellow at Newsweek, where she covered current events and politics.
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Mark Zuckerberg on a laptop screen, speaking from a room with a couch and wooden shelving with flowers

Mark Zuckerberg speaking during the virtual F8 developers conference in 2021. 

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine is suing Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The suit, which was filed in the DC Superior Court on Monday, alleges that Zuckerberg was directly involved in decisions that led to the Cambridge Analytica data breach. 

Racine alleges that Zuckerberg's policies enabled misleading information about Facebook's privacy practices, which led to the personal data of millions of Americans being exposed in the breach.

"This lawsuit is not only warranted, but necessary," said Racine in a tweet on Monday. "Misleading consumers, exposing their data, and violating the law come with consequences, not only for companies that breach that trust, but also corporate executives."

In December 2018, Racine sued Facebook over the social media site's data practices, and this new suit is seeking to fine Zuckerberg personally over his role in the incident. 

Racine had attempted to add Zuckerberg as a defendant to the ongoing 2018 case, but a judge in March dismissed the effort, according to The Washington Post. The judge reportedly said Racine had waited too long to add Zuckerberg to the suit. 

Researchers from Cambridge Analytica gained access to the data of 87 millions of Facebook users, and then may have misused it for political advertising during the 2016 US presidential election. The scandal, which erupted into pubic attention in March 2018, caused Cambridge Analytica, which was affiliated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign, to be banned from Facebook in 2018

Facebook has also faced global scrutiny for its handling of the incident. In 2019, the company reached an "unprecedented" $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission after examining whether the company should have done more to prevent user data from being siphoned. 

Facebook declined to comment.