FTC Votes to Settle With Facebook for $5B

Andrew Cummings
July 13, 2019

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved a record privacy settlement against Facebook Inc. requiring the social-media company to pay about $5 billion to resolve an investigation stemming from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

The agreement, which probably would include restrictions on Facebook, caps a lengthy investigation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Until the decision today, the largest tech-industry fine was for $22 million, levied against Google in 2012.

In response, Facebook has since repeatedly vowed to do a better job corralling its users' data, but fell short of FTC expectations.

The FTC and Facebook both declined to comment.

The FTC announced a year ago it reopened its investigation into a 2011 privacy settlement with Facebook after revelations that personal data on tens of millions of users was hijacked by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, working on the Donald Trump campaign in 2016.

Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat and chair of a congressional antitrust panel, called the $5 billion penalty "a Christmas present five months early".

The fine would be a fraction of the billions of dollars Facebook makes from advertising every year. European Union officials are pursuing multiple data-protection investigations, while United Kingdom antitrust authorities are examining the company's dominance in digital advertising.

While details of the agreement are unknown, in a letter to the FTC earlier this year, Senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Josh Hawley, a Republican, told the agency that even a $5 billion civil penalty was too little and that top officials, potentially including founder Mark Zuckerberg, should be held personally responsible.

While the FTC settlement removes a major burden weighing on the company, Facebook is still grappling with regulatory scrutiny on a host of other fronts. In 2018, Facebook was accused of running roughshod over that pact by allowing Cambridge Analytica to surreptitiously harvest the personal information of millions of people.

Facebook also faces a lawsuit from the D.C. attorney general and other states over the privacy debacle.

Sarah Miller, the group's co-chair, said, "The FTC continues to lay bare their inability to protect American consumers and markets, and Congress needs to investigate the FTC's wanton disregard of their duties". It is not clear how long it will take to finalize.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News.

Other reports by iNewsToday