As per reports, the US regulators have approved a USD 5 billion penalty to be levied on Facebook to settle a probe into the social network’s privacy and data protection lapses. According to the Wall Street Journal the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the settlement in a 3-2 vote, with the two Democratic members of the consumer protection agency dissenting.
Although details have not yet been released, the deal will likely include restrictions on how Facebook is able to use personal data. The FTC announced last year it reopened its investigation into a 2011 privacy settlement with Facebook after revelations that personal data on tens of millions of users was hijacked by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which was working on the Donald Trump campaign in 2016. According to the report, the deal, which would be the largest penalty ever imposed by the FTC for privacy violations, still needs approval from the Justice Department before it is finalized.
Facebook has also faced questions about whether it improperly shared user data with business partners in violation of the earlier settlement. The leading social network with more than two billion users worldwide has also been facing inquiries on privacy from authorities in US states and regulators around the world.
The settlement would be in line with Facebook’s estimate earlier this year when it said it expected to pay USD 3 billion to USD 5 billion for legal settlements on “user data practices.” The fine is unlikely to hurt Facebook, which logged a profit of USD 2.4 billion on revenue that climbed 26 per cent to USD 15.1 billion in the first three months of this year. Facebook’s stock value increased 1.8 per cent after the fine was announced, closing at nearly USD 205, the highest it has been all year.
Some Facebook critics have argued the company should face tougher sanctions including monitoring of its data practices, or that chief executive Mark Zuckerberg should be personally liable for penalties.
There are increasing calls to dismantle the massive social network. In May, one of Facebook’s co-founders called for the social media behemoth to be broken up, warning that Zuckerberg had become far too powerful. “It’s time to break up Facebook,” said Chris Hughes in an editorial for The New York Times, saying it had become necessary to separate the social network from Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp services.