The top-ranked Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is calling on the panel's chairman to bring in for questioning officials tied to a data mining firm that is accused of using Facebook data for political use during the 2016 election.
Feinstein sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and asked the committee to begin the process of investigating Cambridge Analytica. According to The New York Times report over the weekend, the firm obtained data of more than 50 million Facebook users from a Cambridge University researcher.
"Reports of egregious abuse of private data by Cambridge Analytica to influence the 2016 presidential election are extremely troubling, and I believe the Judiciary Committee needs to look into exactly what happened," Feinstein said. "That's why I call on Chairman Grassley to join me in seeking testimony from Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, whistleblower Christopher Wylie, and Professor Aleksandr Kogan, who reportedly harvested the data from Facebook.
"I am also hopeful he will support document requests to Cambridge Analytica and Trump campaign officials."
In her letter to Grassley, Feinstein argued lawmakers need to step in and take a look at what she called "allegations of an egregious breach of privacy and trust."
A former Cambridge Analytica employee said Monday morning that officials from the company met with Trump campaign officials Steve Bannon and Corey Lewandowski, along with representatives from Russian oil companies before the 2016 election.
"These reports raise serious allegations, and the American people need to know how this happened, who knew about it, why steps were not taken sooner to bring it to an end, and what can be done to protect their privacy and the integrity of our elections going forward," Feinstein wrote. "I urge the committee to get to the bottom of these questions by holding hearings on these matters, compelling the production of documents as well as the attendance of relevant witnesses."
The reports sent Facebook stock tumbling, as it lost more than 8 percent on Monday to close at $170.06 per share.
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