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FTC Imposes New Privacy Controls, $5 Billion Fine on Facebook

In an attempt to limit Facebook CEO’ Mark Zuckerberg’s  “unfettered control” over decisions affecting user privacy, the Federal Trade Commission is requiring the social media giant’s board to take on new duties to protect users’ data, under a consent decree reached by the agency and the company.

In addition to the previously reported $5 billion fine, the FTC is requiring that the company establish a new privacy committee made up of independent members of the Facebook’s board. Mr. Zuckerberg will also be required to certify on a quarterly basis that the company is complying with the privacy program mandated by the order. Mr. Zuckerberg could face criminal or civil penalties for any false certifications, under the consent decree. 

“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a release. “The magnitude of the $5 billion penalty and sweeping conduct relief are unprecedented in the history of the FTC.”

The agency’s two Democratic commissioners voted against the consent decree, saying it did not dig deep enough into the actions of its top executives. “We should have continued the investigation to obtain more data and evidence on what Facebook and its executives knew and how they profited. If Facebook failed to cooperate, the Commission had enough evidence to take Facebook and Zuckerberg to trial,” said FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra in his dissent. 

Facebook also settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday over allegations that it should have had better processes in place to disclose data abuses to investors, paying an $100 million penalty.


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