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The Senate Commerce Committee is pushing Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to answer questions about their dealings with one another, following controversy over data the firm allegedly took from 50 million Facebook accounts.
“We appreciate that Facebook has recently taken steps to address this situation. Nevertheless, the possibility that Facebook has either not been transparent with consumers or has not been able to verify that third-party app developers are transparent with consumers is troubling,” Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), wrote in a joint letter with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who chair Commerce subcommittees.
The letter comes after Facebook announced it would suspend Cambridge Analytica from its platform.
The three pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to provide more answers on the types of information that Cambridge Analytica was able to acquire from it, if the company is aware of other similar abuses of its platform and if it will notify any of the 50 million users whose data was taken by the British firm.
The lawmakers asked if it agreed with Facebook’s characterization of its actions in a separate letter to Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) — the British parent company of Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica has challenged Facebook’s assertion on the data. In a statement, it said that it had not "knowingly breached any of Facebook's terms of service and also provided a signed statement to confirm that all Facebook data and their derivatives had been deleted."
The lawmakers also questioned if SCL has shared the Facebook data it obtained with other companies.
Observers have questioned what Cambridge Analytica did with the data, specifically focusing on if it was distributed to either the Trump campaign or Russia. The firm has denied giving the Facebook data to both entities.
Commerce leadership are latest lawmakers to weigh in on the issue. A bevy of legislators, including Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar(D-Minn.) and John Kennedy (R-La.), have also pressed the companies on the matter.
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