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US Regulators Have Approved a Record $5bn Fine on Facebook Over Privacy Breach

US Regulators Have Approved a Record $5bn Fine on Facebook Over Privacy Breach

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been investigating allegations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained the data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013. Facebook Inc’s mobile advertising revenue growth gained momentum in the first three months of the year as the social network sold more ads to users on smartphones and tablets, partially offsetting higher spending which weighed on profits. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – Tags: SOCIETY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS) – RTXZ81J

The settlement was approved by the FTC in a 3-2 vote, sources told US media.Facebook and the FTC told the BBC they had no comment on the reports.

How was the settlement reached?

The consumer protection agency the FTC began investigating Facebook in March 2018 following reports that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the data of tens of millions of its users. The investigation focused on whether Facebook had violated a 2011 agreement under which it was required to clearly notify users and gain “express consent” to share their data. The $5bn fine was approved by the FTC in a 3-2 vote which broke along party lines, with Republican commissioners in favour and Democrats opposed.

The New York Times reported that the Democrats wanted stricter limits on the firm, while other Democrats have criticised the fine as inadequate. “With the FTC either unable or unwilling to put in place reasonable guardrails to ensure that user privacy and data are protected, it’s time for Congress to act,” US Senator Mark Warner said.