Facebook Reportedly Staring Down Barrel Of $5 Billion FTC Fine Over Privacy Violations

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Facebook is no stranger to privacy and security issues; it seems at every turn, a new report is surfacing that claims that some new mishandling of user data has taken place. The most significant privacy outcry Facebook has taken on, happened last year with the Cambridge Analytica fiasco that landed CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress to talk about how the company handles user data. Facebook admitted that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data of 87 million Facebook users and now the FTC has approved a settlement with Facebook on its Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

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The FTC has approved a settlement with Facebook that amounts to about a $5 billion in fine, according to a person familiar with the matter. The fine is the largest that the FTC has ever imposed, by a long shot. Before the $5 billion fine against Facebook, the largest fine the FTC had ever imposed was $22.5 million against Google in 2012, which was also levied over Google's privacy practices at the time.

Facebook's privacy issues have been repeated over and again, leading some to call for Congressional intervention into the company. Democratic Senator Mark Warner said, "Given Facebook's repeated privacy violations, it is clear that fundamental structural reforms are required. With the FTC either unable or unwilling to put in place reasonable guardrails to ensure that user privacy and data are protected, it's time for Congress to act."

The feeling that the FTC fine doesn't go far enough to force Facebook to fix its privacy issues is bipartisan, with Republican Congressman David Cicilline calling the settlement "a slap on the wrist." Cicilline says that the fine is a fraction of Facebook's annual revenue, and it won't make them think twice about protecting user data properly. Facebook took a one-time charge of $3 billion in anticipation of the FTC fine in April. The FTC approved the $5 billion fine against Facebook in a 3-2 vote along party lines, with Republicans in favor of the fine. The settlement has to be reviewed by the Department of Justice next.

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