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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The District of Columbia’s attorney general sued Facebook Wednesday for allegedly letting outside companies, including the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, improperly access user data and for failing to properly disclose that fact.

Why it matters: The regulatory action comes as the Federal Trade Commission is also investigating Facebook over the privacy scandal, which sparked greater scrutiny of the way Silicon Valley has vacuumed up consumer data.

Details: The lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court alleges that Facebook misled consumers about how their data was being accessed. It cites the Cambridge Analytica case, as well as broader data-sharing agreements with outside partners, including device makers.

  • Attorney General Karl Racine's investigation began after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke earlier this year. In that story, an outside developer gathered the data of Facebook users' friends without their knowledge and then provided that data to the consulting firm.
  • Racine told reporters that it then became clear that Facebook had been ”fast and loose” with user data in other ways as well.
  • Assistant Deputy Attorney General Jimmy Rock said it was possible that more claims would be added to the suit as the office learned more about Facebook's practices through legal discovery.
  • The office is seeking monetary damages as well as new privacy protections from Facebook.

By the numbers: The attorney general's office told reports that monetary penalties in the case could be as high as $5,000 for each violation.

  • If the maximum penalties were to be leveled for the roughly 340,000 D.C. residents the office said were implicated in the Cambridge Analytica data leak, it would amount to about $1.7 billion.
  • Yes, but: Damages in the case could also be far less than that, especially if Facebook settles the suit.

What they're saying: “We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in D.C. and elsewhere," said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement.

Go deeper: Read the complaint

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 deaths.
  3. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  4. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  5. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Michigan board certifies Biden's win

Poll workers count absentee ballots in Detroit, Michigan on Nov. 4. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified the state's election results on Monday, making President-elect Joe Biden's win there official and granting him the state's 16 electoral votes.

Why it matters: Republican Party leaders had unsuccessfully appealed to delay the official certification, amid the Trump campaign's failed legal challenges in key swing states.