As per the latest reports, the Federal Trade Commission has fined Facebook for roughly $5bn to settle the privacy violations investigation launched after the Cambridge Analytica revelations.
Citing anonymous sources, the Washington Post, as well as the Wall Street Journal, reported on Friday afternoon that the decision came after the Federal Trade Commission voted over the decision. The settlement reportedly for approval by 3-2 votes, with Republicans being in favor of the decision while Democrats opposing it. The final approval for the fine is waiting for the justice department’s consent.
FTC is a consumer protection agency and it began investigating Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica reports came out revealing that tens of millions of users’ data was stolen or leaked.
The investigation was to find if Facebook violated the 2011 agreement of notifying users and gaining their express consent to use their data.
As per reports, the FTC found Facebook to be guilty of violating the agreement and issued a fine of around $5bn to the social media giant, over which decision, there was a vote conducted. The vote broke 3-2 along party lines and now just an official confirmation is awaited.
As far as the critics are concerned, no one seems happy with the fine. The social media company earned more than $15bn in the first quarter of 2019. A fine of $5bn will hardly make a difference.
Matt Stoller, a monopoly power expert from the Open Markets Institute, said, “This isn’t a fine, it’s a favor to Facebook, a parking ticket which will clear them to conduct more illegal and invasive surveillance”. While pointing to the attorney general of Washington DC, Matt added, “Congress should start defunding the FTC and move the money to state enforcers like Karl Racine who believe in enforcing the law.” Note that Kaci Racine is the attorney general of Washington DC practising lawsuit against the Cambridge Analytica case of Facebook.
Facebook investors seem to agree to the fine since Facebook’s stock price went instantly up by 1% before the market closed for the weekend on Friday.
The Democratoc congressman, David Cicilline reacted to the news on Twitter, “The FTC just gave Facebook a Christmas present five months early. It’s very disappointing that such an enormously powerful company that engaged in such serious misconduct is getting a slap on the wrist.”
Cicilline will be expressing his concerns directly to an executive from Facebook on Tuesday when some representatives of big Silicon Valley tech companies will also testify at the antitrust subcommittee hearing.
Oregon senator Ron Wyden Oregon also addressed the issue and said, “This reported fine is a mosquito bite to a corporation the size of Facebook,” he said. “And I fear it will let Facebook off the hook for more recent abuses of Americans’ data that may not have been factored in to this inadequate settlement. The only way to assure Americans that our private data will be protected is to pass a strong privacy bill, like the one I plan to introduce in the coming weeks.”
The company is looking to launch Libra, a new cryptocurrency in 2020, and it will be getting more challenges in future. Donald Trump also tweeted regarding the new cryptocurrency from the Instagram-owning company on Thursday, stating that Libra “will have little standing or dependability”.