May 23, 2019
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New York investigating Facebook for stealing data from 1.5 mn users

 Photo dated May 18, 2012, showing the logo of Facebook on the day its shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. EFE-EPA/Andrew Gombert

Photo dated May 18, 2012, showing the logo of Facebook on the day its shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. EFE-EPA/Andrew Gombert

New York, Apr 25 (efe-epa).- The New York Attorney General's Office announced Thursday that it has opened an investigation into Facebook for allegedly obtaining the contact information of 1.5 million of its users without their consent by asking them to confirm their e-mail addresses.

In a statement, New York AG Letitia James said that her office opened the investigation because Facebook "has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers' information while at the same time profiting from mining that data."

"It is time Facebook is held accountable," she said.

When registering on the social network, new users receive a confirmation e-mail asking them to verify that their online address is correct.

According to the Attorney General's Office, during this verification procedure some of the users allegedly had been required to provide their password, which would allow the firm founded by Mark Zuckerberg to access their online activity and their contacts.

"Facebook's announcement that it harvested 1.5 million users' email address books, potentially gaining access to contact information for hundreds of millions of individual consumers without their knowledge, is the latest demonstration that Facebook does not take seriously its role in protecting our personal information," James said.

This is not the first time that the New York AG's office has acted against technology firms for their handling of user data. Last January, James announced another investigation - this one into Apple - for an element in its Facetime program that enabled callers to hear and see conference call participants before they had accepted or rejected the call.

In 2018, the office acted against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

On Wednesday, in its quarterly earnings announcement, Facebook said that it expects to be hit with a fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion by the US Federal Trade Commission as a settlement payment following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the resulting potential privacy violations.

The New York Times reported that the New York attorney general's investigation will look mainly at how the incident occurred and how many people were affected.

Also on Thursday, Canada announced that it plans to sue Facebook in the Cambridge Analytica matter for failing to comply with that country's privacy laws or to "protect" the personal information of Canadian users.

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