"Questions have arisen as to what Facebook knew about this conduct, why it failed to prevent app providers from misusing user data and whether this behavior violated California law", the attorney general's office said in the filing. The company's latest privacy snafu emerged only yesterday afternoon, when it disclosed that a flaw in an application programming interface gave about 100 outside developers access to off-limits user data.
"To date we have provided thousands of pages of written responses and hundreds of thousands of documents", he said. He said he was disclosing it because his office was making a public court filing to force Facebook to answer a June subpoena and interrogatories.
Will Castleberry, Facebook's vice president of state and local policy, refuted the attorney general's statements in an email sent to NPR from a spokesperson.
Becerra also claims Facebook refused to search through the mails of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg for documents related to privacy.
California is far from alone in probing Facebook for its utter disregard of users' privacy - 47 of 50 USA states are doing the same, with some going further and investigating whether the platform has engaged in anti-competitive practices in violation of antitrust laws. The lawsuit announced Wednesday also shows that the DOJ has been investigating the Facebook over privacy concerns for the last 18-months.
Becerra at a news conference in San Francisco said Facebook was not "fully responsive" to the state's investigation into Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook had inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
"We had to file this petition because we weren't getting the responses that we believe we were due, lawfully", said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. But we must move our investigation forward.
The company recently agreed to pay $5 billion to settle allegations it violated a 2012 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission by allowing Cambridge Analytica and other companies to harvest users' data.
The filing says Facebook isn't just dragging its feet, but isn't complying with subpoenas and questions.
"The California Department of Justice, pursuant to its statutory authority, issued investigative subpoenas against Facebook starting back in June 2018 to examine the company's actions and business practices and any violations of user privacy".