Facebook is in discussions with the Federal Trade Commission over a settlement that would include appointing privacy-focused executives in the C-suite.
Politico, citing sources close to the discussions, reported the appointment of privacy executives would be in addition to the social media giant paying a multibillion-dollar fine that could be in the $3 billion to $4 billion range. One of the sources told Politico the fine will likely be at the high end of the range. When reporting earnings last week, Facebook said it is likely to get hit with a fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion to settle an investigation by the FTC lodged against the company after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal broke. In that case, the now-defunct political consulting firm was able to access the data on 87 million Facebook users without their consent.
Talks are ongoing and details could change, but under the current discussions, Facebook would name a privacy executive that is approved by the federal government. It would also have to create a privacy oversight committee that is independent but could include Facebook board members. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would also become “designated compliance officer” in charge of carrying out the privacy policies at the company. It would make Zuckerberg accountable for how the social media giant handles any privacy issues, noted the report.
Politico reported that with the proposed settlement, the FTC would be able to veto the choice for privacy executive. The new oversight committee would meet each quarter and issue reports about the privacy practices of Facebook. Its not clear what authority the privacy executive or assessor will have or whether or not the committee on privacy will have the power to impact decisions at the company. It’s also not clear who would pay the salaries for the new jobs and how they would interact with the current Facebook board.
The settlement needs the support of the majority of the FTC’s five commissioners in order for it to be approved. If the two sides can’t reach a settlement, then the issue will go to court — if the Justice Department agrees to represent the FTC in the lawsuit, noted the report.