It is a given that privacy is valuable. But privacy can be violated! And the Federal Trade Commission knows that. According to the Washington Post, FTC officials could impose a fine on Facebook after a year of data breaches and revelations of inappropriate data sharing. The popular social media platform may have violated an agreement with the government to protect data and make specific statements about their privacy.
If the FTC decides to proceed this means that Facebook could be fined millions of dollars and it would be the first major streak in the United States. The first time Facebook was fined for a similar faux pas was revealed last spring that the personal data of over 87 million users had been given to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, without their permission. And last autumn, United Kingdom officials fined Facebook 640,000 dollars because of the above incident.
Also, according to the Washington Post, the fine could be larger than the $22.5 million more than the fine forced on Google in 2012 after regulators discovered that the company had tracked users of Apple’s Safari web browser, despite saying it wouldn’t.
Back in 2012, Facebook entered a consent decree with the FTC agreeing that it misled its users by telling them that certain information would be kept private when it was not. The social media channel had made information available to the public, like published posts or lists of friends, without the permission of the users. And it seems that Facebook is “guilty” of that and the FTC can’t tolerate it.
After the Cambridge Analytica and incidents. like a hacker accessing personal information on 29 million accounts, members of Congress and advocacy groups have called on the FTC to take action.
“Serious consequences are the only way to curb Facebook’s predatory behavior and change the industry’s amoral pursuit of growth at the public’s expense.”
Privacy advocates urged the FTC to take aggressive action against Facebook. “The agency now has the legal authority, the evidence, and the public support to act. There can be no excuse for further delay,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which helped to bring about the FTC’s 2011 charges against Facebook.
For the time being the investigation is not over and the amount of the fine is not finalized. Also, Facebook personnel had meetings with FTC investigators throughout the past year, but we don’t know if the social media platform will accept the fine – and their mistake – and we don’t have an official statement about the issue.