This past July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled for $5 billion with Facebook over its numerous and repeated privacy violations. That’s by far the biggest fine ever levied against a tech company, though many experts at the time said it still didn’t go far enough to punish the company for its carelessness with user data. Now a prominent U.S. lawmaker agrees, grilling the FTC for setting a “dangerous precedent” with the social media giant.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote a letter to FTC chairman Joseph Simons this week expressing concern that Facebook was released from legal liability too easily. She said she’s particularly troubled that Facebook won’t face another penalty for any privacy violations that may have occurred between 2012, the year Facebook entered a consent agreement with the FTC, and 2019.
“I am concerned that the settlement lets Facebook off the hook for unspecified violations, and given the many public reports of Facebook’s mishandling of consumer data, it is difficult to fully understand the impact of this provision on the settlement on the data privacy protection of the millions of U.S. consumers that have used and continue to use Facebook,” Cantwell wrote.
Unfortunately, it might be too little, too late to punish Facebook in this instance. However, the more lawmakers and privacy advocates sound the alarm on Facebook’s behavior, the more likely it is the company will be held accountable moving forward.
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