Facebook Faces $5 Billion Fine Over Privacy Disaster

U.S. regulators approve $5 billion Facebook settlement over privacy issues WSJ

Although the reported settlement serves as the FTC's largest fine for privacy violations, lawmakers have criticized the size of the fine given Facebook's wealth.

In April, Facebook disclosed that in Q1, it set aside $3 billion for expenses related to the FTC probe, expecting the investigation to cost it somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billion.

Their report found that the company was using improper means to obtain information of Facebook users. The data was originally harvested using a seemingly benign quiz app on the platform but was later potentially used by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, for the unrelated objective of political ad targeting.

The FTC and Facebook declined to comment on the reports.

"Those conditions should protect not just user privacy, but also the users´ opportunity to easily leave Facebook for a competitor if they choose".

In 2011, Facebook assured the FTC that it would not share data with third parties without consent.

In the United Kingdom, the Information Commissioner's Office fined Facebook £500,000 previous year for a "serious breach of data protection law".

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The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the vote by the commission.

The FTC's investigation into Facebook began more than a year ago, after the data of millions of users of the social media site wound up in the possession of Cambridge Analytica, a firm assisting with Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) civil division will now review the matter in accordance with FTC procedure before finalizing the decision.

In the USA, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission opened investigations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

It also remains to be seen whether CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be held personally liable for future infringements on the FTC consent decree, an idea that has been previously floated but is considered unlikely to come to pass. Washington DC, New York and other states are suing the company over its numerous privacy lapses, including the data-sharing deals and unauthorized hoarding of users' email address books, and several members of Congress, including Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia), have proposed legislation to rein in Big Tech abuses. And it collected call and text logs from phones running Google's Android system in 2015. For context, Facebook recorded $15 billion in sales during the fiscal quarter that ended in March.

Cicilline, the chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, wrote: "It's very disappointing that such an enormously powerful company that engaged in such serious misconduct is getting a slap on the wrist".

The fine is not the end of the story.

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