Facebook could face massive fine by FTC over data breaches

By Anuj Sharma - February 15, 2019
Facebook put millions of users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission.

It seems like the woes for the social media giant Facebook are not yet over. The company and several officials at the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are negotiating over a multibillion-dollar fine to put an end to the agency’s investigation into Facebook’s data privacy practices.

While the exact amount of fine is yet to be determined, but according to the media reports, the fine by the FTC could be the largest ever on a technology company.

The largest fine ever by the FTC was a $22.5 million penalty on Google back in 2012 after the officials identified that the Google tracked users of Apple’s Safari web browser after it explicitly said not to do so earlier.

The fine by the FTC is a consequence of data breaches happened on Facebook including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, wherein data of about 87 million users was illegally accessed and later sold by the political consulting firm.

The FTC officials started investigating Facebook in March of 2018 after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other following breaches, including where a hacker was able to access data from 29 million accounts.

However, if the between Facebook and FTC did not result in some sort of agreement over the fine, then the agency could bring the social media giant to the court over its negligence over privacy of user data.

In January, a report in The Washington Post said the FTC could pose a fine larger than the $22 million it imposed on Google for Facebook, but privacy and civil rights advocates argued that the fine should be in billions to correct Facebook’s behaviour. Organisations like the Open Market Institute and Color of Change wrote to the FTC requesting that it bump up the fine to at least $2 billion.


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