Attorney General Letitia James today announced an investigation into Facebook’s unauthorized collection of 1.5 million Facebook users’ email contact databases.

According to the Attorney General's Office, Facebook claims that 1.5 million contact databases were directly harvested by its email password verification process for new users, the total number of people whose information was improperly obtained may be hundreds of million.

Attorney General James said:

It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers' personal information. Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data. Facebook’s announcement that it harvested 1.5 million users’ email address books, potentially gaining access to contact information for hundreds of millions of individual consumers without their knowledge, is the latest demonstration that Facebook does not take seriously its role in protecting our personal information

Email verification is a standard practice for online services such as Facebook.

Typically, when a consumer signs up to a new service, they are asked to provide an email address, where they then receive an email with a link to verify that the email account belongs to them.

Facebook's procedure requested certain users to hand over their password to their personal email account.

While Facebook has admitted that 1.5 million people's contact books were directly harvested, the total number of people whose contact information was improperly obtained by Facebook may be hundreds of millions, as people can have hundreds of contacts stored on their contact databases.

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