Sen. Patrick Leahy says a decision by Facebook to allow a political consulting firm to obtain profiles of more than 50 million consumers during the 2016 presidential election constitutes a "major national security issue."
Leahy says he feels betrayed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Leahy is the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee — a place he says he wants to see Zuckerberg in the near future.
"Yes, I do. It's a simple answer and I have a digital privacy and security bill that we should be passing that would help this,” said Leahy. “But I also think Mark Zuckerberg and others from his company should come before us."
Leahy is the sponsor of legislation that protects the digital privacy rights of all Americans.
The bill calls on social media companies to take preventative steps to protect personal information and to notify consumers immediately if a breach has occurred.
The Federal Trade Commission has also announced that it's opened an investigation to determine if Facebook has violated a 2011 agreement that protects the personal information of its consumers.
Leahy says this massive data breach has had an impact on national security.
"We Vermonters believe in privacy and this is a horrible breach of privacy,” said Leahy. “If you combine the ability to do this with a country like Russia that's trying to influence our elections you've got a major national security issue."
Rep Peter Welch says the controversy surrounding Facebook is "a very serious matter."
"Facebook relies on trust and they breached trust with their consumers. So in my view we've really got to throw the book at them in terms of protecting privacy rights of individuals," said Welch.
And Welch wants Facebook to explain why consumers were not notified about this data breach when it occurred two years ago.
“And by all indications Mr. Zuckerberg stonewalled, he just didn't come forward and acknowledge what Facebook had done even though Facebook knew well what had been done,” said Welch.
Welch says he supports major financial penalties against Facebook to make certain that the company understands the enormous severity of their data breach.