Wednesday, 17 July, 2019

FTC Votes to Settle With Facebook for $5B

Facebook fined over privacy violations The 5 billion dollar fine would be the largest the US Federal Trade Commission has levied on a technology
Russell Knight | 13 July, 2019, 10:26

US officials approved a record $5 billion privacy settlement with Facebook Inc.to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, people said, prompting an immediate outcry from lawmakers and privacy advocates who said it didn't go far enough.

According to the Journal, three Republican commissioners cast their vote for the fine and two Democratic commissioners voted against it, making the FTC ruling likely a partisan decision.

But then, in 2016, Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica, a political data-mining firm, to scrape the data of 50 million users to help the campaign of now-president Donald Trump.

Even though the fine is larger by a factor of 100 than the next-largest FTC penalty for privacy violation, it's also less than a tenth of Facebook's 2018 revenue and a fraction of its $600 billion valuation. Facebook shares climbed 1%, though the amount is more than the company expected.

The settlement still needs to be finalized by the Justice Department's Civil Division and a final announcement could come as early as next week, the source said.

In the USA, one such board is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who has been looking into Facebook's past controversies with a fine-tooth comb.

The long-expected punishment, which Facebook is well prepared for, is unlikely to make a dent in the social media giant's deep pockets.

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"It's also clear that we're going to need Congress and the state attorneys general to take the mantle of any future antitrust investigation of Facebook because Trump's FTC appointees are not up to the task", Miller added. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the Facebook matter.

The regulator sought to establish whether the disclosures violated a 2012 agreement in which Facebook promised to better protect its users' privacy.

Although details of the settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission weren't announced, the fine is steep but far from devastating for Facebook.

Even a record $5 billion penalty won't be too damaging a dent for Facebook, which made a profit of $22 billion previous year on $56 billion in total revenue, or a profit margin of 45%.

The $5 billion figure may be a record-breaker, but it represents less than Facebook reported in net profit ($5.43 billion) for the first quarter of 2019 alone.

If the reports of the deal are true, and if the settlement is accepted by both sides and approved, Facebook will have to cough up $5bn, which is at the upper end of what the Silicon Valley web giant was expecting.

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