FTC votes to approve $5 billion settlement with Facebook in privacy probe

Posted in: Surveillance & Privacy at 14/07/2019 23:22

The Federal Trade Commission voted this week to approve a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook that could end an investigation into its privacy practices, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak on the record, a deal poised to result in unprecedented new government oversight of the company.

The settlement -- adopted along party lines, with the FTC’s three Republicans supporting it and two Democrats against it -- puts in motion an end to a wide-ranging probe into Facebook’s mishandling of users’ personal information that began more than a year ago.

The FTC’s $5 billion punishment against Facebook sets a new record as the largest penalty ever assessed against a tech company that broke a past promise to the government to improve its privacy practices -- more than 200 times greater than the previous largest fine. The matter from here rests in the hands of the Justice Department, which typically must finalize such FTC settlements, though DOJ rarely has upended them.

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F.T.C. Approves Facebook Fine of About $5 Billion
The Federal Trade Commission has approved a fine of roughly $5 billion against Facebook for mishandling users’ personal information, according to three people briefed on the vote, in what would be a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance by regulators toward the country’s most powerful technology companies.

The much-anticipated settlement still needs final approval in the coming weeks from the Justice Department, which rarely rejects settlements reached by the agency. It would be the biggest fine by far levied by the federal government against a technology company, easily eclipsing the $22 million imposed on Google in 2012. The size of the penalty underscored the rising frustration among Washington officials with how Silicon Valley giants collect, store and use people’s information.

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