Report: Facebook Could Get Hit With Government Privacy Oversight

Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are discussing a massive settlement over the company’s privacy and data problems, according to an exclusive report this week from POLITICO. The deal could include a record-setting fine of $3 billion to $5 billion, and might also stipulate the creation of a federally-approved privacy oversight committee.

Under the proposed settlement, the FTC would reportedly have “veto power” over the choice of a privacy executive to oversee the company, and the independent committee would be required to provide periodic reports on the tech giant’s privacy practices. However, the plan crucially does not include any new restrictions on Facebook’s data practices, and does not call for Mark Zuckerberg to be removed from his company’s board. At least one expert criticized the outlined deal for not being tough enough.

“The additional remedies are not meaningful,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told POLITICO. “Creating an independent office, or an office within Facebook — which by the way, is not independent — does not establish new privacy obligations, nor does it ensure compliance.”

Of course, this deal is still in its early stages, and it’s possible the final version could include harsher punishments for Facebook. But if the oversight board doesn’t end up having any power to change Facebook’s policies, the entire endeavor may have been a waste of time.

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