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Federal Court OKs $5B Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Settlement

 |  April 26, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday, April 23, approved the US$5 billion Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fine that Facebook agreed to pay last year over privacy violations stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The settlement, reached in July and the largest in the FTC’s history, came after a lengthy investigation into Facebook.

The US$5 billion agreement was criticized by lawmakers and other critics of Facebook who said the amount was too small given Facebook’s massive profits, and that it let the platform off too easily.

Several advocacy groups, including Public Citizen, Common Sense Media, and the Us Public Interest Research Group, had tried to stop the courts from approving the settlement.

US District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, acknowledged the concerns in his opinion Thursday, saying they call into question laws governing technology companies.

However, he wrote, “those concerns are largely for Congress; they are not relevant here. Mindful of its proper role, and especially considering the deference to which the Executive’s enforcement discretion is entitled, the Court will grant the consent motion and enter the order as proposed.”

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons issued the following statement regarding the Federal Court’s approval of the Facebook settlement: “We are pleased with the Court’s decision. As the Court notes, the historic $5 billion settlement is ‘by far’ the largest monetary penalty ever obtained by the United States on behalf of the FTC and the ‘second largest in any context.’ At the same time, the Court also highlights that the conduct relief included in this settlement will require Facebook ‘to consider privacy at every stage of its operations and provide substantially more transparency and accountability for its executives’ privacy-related decisions.’”

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