Facebook Wins Freeze on Disclosures in D.C. Privacy Lawsuit

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. doesn’t need to respond to District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine’s demands for data about the social media giant’s user privacy-protection policies while awaiting a Washington court ruling on whether his consumer-protection case can go forward.

Racine sued Facebook in December, claiming it failed to protect consumer data after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica -- a political consulting firm hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign -- gained access to personal information of about 70 million U.S. citizens without their consent. Racine sued on behalf of the 340,000 district residents he says were harmed by Facebook’s actions.

The attorney general sought documents from Facebook while the judge in the case considers the company’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. D.C. Superior Court Judge Fern Saddler denied that request after a short hearing on Wednesday.

Racine, who was at the hearing, said outside court that he “was slightly disappointed” by Saddler’s ruling but that he ultimately expects to prevail.

Joshua Lipshutz, Facebook’s lawyer, declined to comment. He told the judge at the hearing that before the lawsuit was filed the company had turned over 130,000 documents to the attorney general’s office.

A hearing on Facebook’s request to have the lawsuit dismissed is set for March 22.

The case is District of Columbia v. Facebook Inc., 2018 CA 008715 B, District of Columbia Superior Court, Civil Division (Washington).

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