In the latest move amid an ongoing battle between Meta Platforms, the parent company of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Meta has filed a lawsuit against the regulatory body.
According to Reuters, the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, seeks to prevent the FTC from unilaterally reopening a 2019 consent agreement and imposing restrictions on Meta’s revenue collection from users under the age of 18.
The dispute has its roots in May when the FTC proposed amendments to the 2019 consent agreement. The proposed changes aimed to prohibit Meta from monetizing its services for young users, extending these restrictions to its virtual reality business, and imposing additional limitations on the use of facial recognition technology.
Under the original 2019 agreement, Facebook, before its rebranding as Meta in 2021, was mandated to pay a hefty $5 billion fine for breaching a prior agreement, reported Reuters. The proposed tightening of the consent agreement is part of the FTC’s broader efforts to enhance privacy measures and promote competition within the realm of Big Tech.
Meta’s recent legal action challenges the constitutionality of the FTC’s ability to unilaterally amend an existing consent agreement. The lawsuit, filed against the agency, specifically names Chair Lina Khan, along with the two Democratic commissioners, Rebecca Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya, as defendants.
This legal maneuver comes on the heels of a separate appeal filed by Meta against a ruling by Judge Timothy Kelly, who determined that the case should be presided over by an FTC judge rather than a district judge.
In response to Meta’s legal action, the FTC maintains that the proposed amendments are necessary due to Meta’s alleged misleading of parents, particularly regarding the level of control they have over their children’s interactions on the Messenger Kids app.
The lawsuit adds another layer to the ongoing conflict between tech giants and regulatory bodies striving to strike a balance between user privacy, competition, and corporate profits. As the legal battle unfolds, it remains to be seen how the courts will navigate the complex intersection of technology, regulation, and consumer protection.