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NY Attorney General investigating Facebook

April 25, 2019 11:35 PM

New York Attorney General Letitia James doesn't believe Facebook protects its user's data seriously enough. She’s launching an investigation into Facebook’s unauthorized collection of 1.5 million users’ email contact databases.

The issue reportedly relates to users that signed up for Facebook accounts after 2016. Reports claim that once an email verification was sent, Facebook also requested that certain users give the passwords to those email accounts.

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Additionally, James said Facebook was unauthorized to collect data from those users’ email address books.

“By that they actually had the ability to not only know who you were but know who your friends were and how you maybe interacted with them and where they were at geographically,” Mike Stamas, a partner at GreyCastle Security said. “It allowed them a lot more information about you so they can market to you and more unique and different ways.”

Stamas said though it's unclear what happened with this data, Facebook does typically sell user's information.

Of course this isn't the first time the social network has made headlines for violating user's privacy. In fact Facebook is reportedly preparing for some big payouts.

"Facebook has had their fair share of black eyes lately,” Stamas said. “I actually saw a recent article that they've set aside some money in this quarterly budget to pay fines upwards of $3 billion in fines to the Federal Trade Commission."

Some of that money may also go to places where stringent privacy laws have been passed, like in the European Union or the state of California. Stamas said New York may not be far behind in passing similar laws.

Unfortunately, many users have become numb to privacy violations. Stamas believes that's due to the fact that most people don't know how much of their information is being or has been collected.

“I think if you were to lay out here's what these organizations know about you in detail and very black-and-white terms, I think most people would be uncomfortable with that,” Stamas said.

James said though Facebook clams 1.5 million users were affected, she believes that number could actually be in the hundreds of millions.

The New York AG’s office has investigated Facebook before. That was back in March 2018 after reported misuse of user data with Cambridge Analytica.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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