The Latest: States seek answers from Facebook on users’ data

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the alleged use of personal Facebook data by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

The top prosecutors in Massachusetts and New York have sent a letter to Facebook demanding the social media giant protect its users’ private information.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched a joint investigation Saturday after reports that British data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica captured information from 50 million Facebook users without their consent. The firm is tied to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Healey says residents in her state “deserve answers immediately” from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica about what data was shared and how the incident allowed to happen. Her office says it has been in touch with Facebook about the investigation.

Schneiderman says that if the company violated New York law “we will hold them accountable.”

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5 p.m.

A group of consumer-advocacy organizations is pressing the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook’s role in the use of personal data by a political research firm tied to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood and 10 other groups are urging the FTC to investigate whether Facebook violated an agreement Facebook signed with the FTC in 2011 offering privacy assurances.

The move comes after Bloomberg first reported the FTC could already be investigating. The FTC hasn’t confirmed the investigation but said it takes “any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously.”

Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman says the company would be willing to speak with federal regulators about the issue.

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4:30 p.m.

A former employee of a political data-mining firm that obtained information from Facebook users without their consent has agreed to be interviewed by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

A person familiar with the interview says Christopher Wylie, a Cambridge Analytica employee-turned-whistleblower, will speak to the committee and provide documents. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the panel’s schedule is not public. A date has not been set.

Wylie told news outlets that the company, which worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, used the data to build psychological profiles so voters could be targeted with ads and stories.

California Rep. Adam Schiff had invited Wylie to testify, even though Republicans have ended the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Schiff is the top Democrat on the committee.

— Mary Clare Jalonick, Washington

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4:05 p.m.

The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling Facebook’s latest privacy scandal a “danger signal” and says it may be time for Congress to consider regulating social-media services.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California says she wants Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify and assure the committee that the company is prepared to take the lead on security measures that protect people’s privacy. She says if Facebook can’t do that, Congress may step in.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also wants Zuckerberg to testify.

But Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr won’t commit to asking Zuckerberg to appear.

A British parliamentary committee is also summoning Zuckerberg to answer questions.

Facebook is sidestepping questions on whether Zuckerberg would appear, saying instead that it’s currently focused on conducting its own reviews.

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3:05 p.m.

The board of Cambridge Analytica says it has suspended CEO Alexander Nix pending a full independent investigation of his actions.

The board cited comments Nix made to an undercover reporter for Britain’s Channel 4 News and other allegations of wrongdoing for its action Tuesday.

It says his comments “do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view the violation.”

The board says in an announcement posted on the data-mining company’s website that the suspension is effective immediately.

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3:00 p.m.

A British TV news program is airing more footage from the secretly recorded meeting one of its reporters had with Cambridge Analytica chief Alexander Nix.

Channel 4 News broadcast clips Tuesday that show Nix saying his data-mining firm played a major role in securing Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including “all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting.”

Nix also said Cambridge Analytica used emails set with a “self-destruct timer” during the Trump campaign to make its role more difficult to trace.

He said: “There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing.”

The program says Nix made the comments to a reporter posing as a wealthy potential client seeking to use Cambridge Analytica to influence campaigns in Sri Lanka.

Cambridge Analytica is being investigated by British officials for its handling of Facebook users’ personal data.

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1:20 p.m.

A British parliamentary committee is summoning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer questions on fake news as authorities step up efforts to determine whether data has been improperly used to influence elections.

The request comes amid reports that a U.K. company used Facebook data to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The company, Cambridge Analytica, has been accused of improperly using information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts. It denies wrongdoing.

The chairman of the U.K. parliamentary media committee, Damian Collins, said Tuesday that his group has repeatedly asked Facebook how it uses data and that Facebook officials “have been misleading to the committee.”

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1:15 p.m.

Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman says the company would be willing to speak with federal regulators about the use of personal data by a political research firm tied to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

Cambridge Analytica obtained Facebook account data without users’ knowledge. Published reports say the company retained the data after claiming it had been deleted. Chris Wylie, who once worked for Cambridge Analytica, was quoted as saying the company used the data to build psychological profiles so voters could be targeted.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg was the first to report that the Federal Trade Commission is probing Facebook over the use of that personal data.

The FTC says it’s aware of the issues that have been raised. It wouldn’t comment on whether it was investigating Facebook, but said it takes “any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously.”

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9:50 a.m.

Facebook is having one of its worst weeks as a publicly traded company with a share sell-off continuing for a second day.

Britain’s Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the BBC that she was investigating Facebook and has asked the company not to pursue its own audit of Cambridge Analytica’s data use. Denham is also pursuing a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s servers.

Facebook’s stock tumbled 2 percent at the opening bell Tuesday following its worst trading day in four years.

Facebook Inc. is coming under intense scrutiny since The New York Times and The Guardian newspaper reported that former Trump campaign consultant Cambridge Analytica used data, including user likes, inappropriately obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections.

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5:15 a.m.

Britain’s information commissioner says she is using all her legal powers to investigate the handling of personal data by Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is pursuing a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s servers. The company allegedly used data mined from Facebook to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

She told BBC on Tuesday she is also investigating Facebook and has asked Facebook not to pursue its own audit of Cambridge Analytica’s data use. She says Facebook has agreed.

Denham said the prime allegation against Cambridge Analytica is that it acquired personal data in an unauthorized way.

Chris Wylie, who once worked for Cambridge Analytica, was quoted as saying the company used the data to build psychological profiles so voters could be targeted with ads and stories.

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