Facebook could face record multi-million pound fine

Jeannie Matthews
July 15, 2019

This is expected to cap the agency's investigation into the data-mining scandal that compromised up to 87 million Facebook users' personal data. It was a London-based political consulting firm which combined data brokerage, data mining, and data analysis with strategic communication. Facebook had more than $15B in revenue in the first three months of 2019.

It'd be the largest ever fine given to a technology company in the USA, but some people don't think it's tough enough.

Neither Facebook nor the FTC commented on the matter so far. The 3-2 vote broke along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition to the settlement, according to the reports.

The multi-billion-dollar settlement draft, details of which appeared in the United States mainstream media this afternoon ahead of any official word from the FTC or Facebook, will be the watchdog's largest in its history.

That earlier order was agreed after the FTC found that the company had "deceived consumers" by saying their information was private but then "repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public".

The FTC and Facebook declined to comment on the reports. The penalty against Facebook would be larger than the record-setting $22.5 million the FTC imposed on Google in 2012.

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Canada's data watchdog earlier this year said Facebook had committed "serious contraventions" of its privacy laws.

But the details prompted huge criticism from Democratic lawmakers arguing the terms should be more draconian and that the penalty represents a fraction of Facebook's revenues, which were $55.8b in 2018.

The New York Times reported that the Democrats wanted stricter limits on the firm, while other Democrats have criticised the fine as inadequate. Now it looks like the social media company will be forking over $5 billion to answer for its indiscretions.

"Given Facebook's repeated privacy violations, it is clear that fundamental structural reforms are required", Sen. "It's a relief for the Street, which was fearing the FTC situation was going to become a much broader inquiry with ramification beyond just a fine".

The Federal Trade Commission's approval of a $5 billion settlement with Facebook sent shares in the tech giant up 1% in the final minutes of Friday's trading session. When the first quarter came to a close at the end of March, Facebook had $45.42 billion in cash and equivalents in its accounts. The social network can get back to business, unencumbered by a year-long investigation into its cavalier handling of users' personal data.

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