[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – At a joint hearing today of the Senate Judiciary and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) demanded Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explain why his company did not take action to protect Facebook users against third-party developers with terms of service agreements that explicitly allowed them to sell their data.
In the wake of reports that academic researcher Dr. Aleksandr Kogan provided political firm Cambridge Analytica with personal information on millions of Facebook users, Facebook has claimed that Dr. Kogan misled the company about how data would be used.
Today, Blumenthal questioned Zuckerberg about a previously undisclosed 2014 terms of service document – obtained by Blumenthal in the course of his investigation into Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data to influence voters – that explicitly permitted Dr. Kogan to “sell, licence (by whatever means and on whatever terms) and archive your contribution and data.”
Blumenthal expressed additional concern about the scope of user data that has been exposed to misuse by third-party applications, given that the terms of service document provided by Dr. Kogan may have been provided by other applications as well.
In 2011, an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) resulted in a consent decree that required the company to “establish and implement, and thereafter maintain, a comprehensive privacy program.” The terms of service agreement allowing Dr. Kogan to sell user data collected using his application was submitted to Facebook in 2014.