Regulation

US Regulators Eye ‘Record’ Facebook Fine

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Regulators in the United States have reportedly met to discuss levying fines against social media giant Facebook, a punishment that could be sizable in scope and which comes in the wake of privacy violations.

Numerous sources citing The Washington Post said Friday that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is mulling the fine, which could be set at record levels. That fine would come in tandem with investigations that have stretched into the past year, since a March 2018 announcement that the FTC was looking into the company’s privacy practices. The Post in turn cited three unnamed people, “familiar with the discussions,” in reporting on the most recent developments.

Facebook has drawn scrutiny amid reports that a quiz application was used to gather details on as many as 87 million users, and the data was in turn shared with Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm based in the United Kingdom that has since been shuttered. The consulting firm had retained data on tens of millions of users, but said it had not in fact held onto that data. Other data privacy issues have been reported beyond that linkup.

The fine would reportedly be “record-setting” in scope and would eclipse the $22.5 million paid by Google in 2012.

As has been reported, Facebook had entered into a 2011 consent decree with the FTC, under which the company had pledged to be transparent in the ways it collected and handled (and retained) data.

The government shutdown currently underway has meant that regulators have not as of yet responded to the Friday reports.

In other regulatory news reported just this week concerning Facebook, the antitrust watchdog in Germany – the Federal Cartel Office – aims to stop the social media giant from gathering user data, a determination that comes amid findings that the company has been collecting information from third-party apps, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, without users’ consent.

Elsewhere, if the company is found to have breached the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that has now taken effect in Europe, the company could be fined as much as $1.6 billion.

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