After months of negotiations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Facebook have reportedly agreed to a $5 billion fine that will settle an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices.
Regulators originally launched the investigation after the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal last spring. According to reports, the FTC voted 3-2 this week to approve the settlement — with the two dissenting votes pushing for even stronger oversight. Indeed, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle aren’t pleased with how lightly Facebook was punished.
“This reported $5 billion penalty is barely a tap on the wrist, not even a slap,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. “Such a financial punishment for purposeful, blatant illegality is chump change for a company that makes tens of billions of dollars every year. Will Facebook be compelled to alter its present, systematic abuse of privacy? Based on the reported settlement, the answer is sadly, no.”
While $5 billion seems like a lot of money — and it most certainly is — the figure only amounts to a month’s worth of revenue for the social media giant. Thankfully, the settlement is rumored to include additional “government restrictions” on how Facebook handles user privacy. Still, it seems like regulators may have missed a golden opportunity to come down hard on Facebook and teach it a lesson.
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