The FTC has voted to approve a fine of about US$5 billion ($7.4b) for Facebook over privacy violations, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The report cited an unnamed person familiar with the matter.
Facebook declined to comment; the FTC did not immediately respond to messages for comment. The Journal said the 3-2 vote broke along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition to the fine.
The FTC report has been moved to the Justice Department for review, per the report. It is not clear how long it will take to finalise.
The fine would be the largest the FTC has levied on a tech company. But it won’t make much of a dent for Facebook, which had nearly US$56b in revenue last year. The report did not say what else the settlement includes beyond the fine, though it is expected to include limits on how Facebook treats user privacy.
Since the Cambridge Analytica debacle erupted more than a year ago and prompted the FTC investigation, Facebook has vowed to do a better job corralling its users’ data.
Nevertheless, its controls have remained leaky. For example, It also acknowledged giving big tech companies like Amazon and Yahoo extensive access to users’ personal data, in effect exempting them from its usual privacy rules. And it collected call and text logs from phones running Google’s Android system in 2015.
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