Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine to settle the agency’s investigation into the social media company’s privacy practices. It would be the largest fine the FTC has ever imposed on a tech company. The fine amount is yet to be determined.
The FTC is currently investigating revelations that Facebook improperly shared information of 87 million users with now-defunct British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. The misconduct violates a 2011 agreement with the FTC to safeguard users’ privacy.
If the FTC and Facebook do not reach an agreement over the fine, the agency could drag Facebook to court over its privacy misconduct. The settlement may also call for changes in how Facebook does business.
The FTC’s biggest fine for a privacy lapse was $22.5 million levied on Alphabet’s Google in 2012.
In 2015, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries agreed to pay at least $1.2 billion in a landmark settlement to resolve antitrust violations committed by Cephalon, which it had acquired in 2012.
The Washington Post reported that the FTC could levy a fine larger than the $22.5 million imposed on Google for Facebook. However, privacy and civil rights advocates argued that anything in million would be deemed ineffective in pushing the social media company to change its behavior.
In the UK, Facebook was fined £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, for failing to protect users’ personal information.
Facebook may end up in even bigger trouble with the Irish Data Protection Regulator, which is currently probing the social media giant for multiple admissions of security flaws. It could be fined up to 4% of its annual turnover if found to be in breach of the tough new GDPR rules.