In late April, Facebook made an announcement that it was facing a $5 billion fine over its mishandling of personal information during the 2016 election campaign and other privacy-related issues.
Federal regulators have been very vocal about the need to hold the social media giant accountable, but it seems to pursue that accountability is proving to be complicated.
Several months ago, the Federal Trade Commission vowed that they would hand down a historic penalty for Facebook, but now just days before the final vote, it seems like they are having trouble coming to an agreement. FTC negotiations have soured due to disagreement on the size of the $5 billion penalty and some chairmen attempting to include Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg accountable for the violation of a 2011 agreement.
The FTC and Facebook 2011 agreement detailed a set of privacy guidelines that the social media network agreed to uphold. One of those guidelines includes protections for consumers, their privacy and the necessity of consent before being given away without their knowledge, contrarily of how it was handled during the 2016 election campaign.
According to an NYT report, Facebook lawyers have fought against this claim, stating that Zuckerberg cannot be legally responsible for the actions of Facebook’s 35,000 employees.
The FTC has a history of pulling back punches when it comes to the tech industry. In 2012, the FTC fined Google 22.5 million, the largest fine given out to any tech industry, for lying about not placing “tracking cookies” for safari users data. According to the verge, on Q4 alone google amassed $14.4 billion in profits.
FTC Chairman Joseph Simmons has come forward and said he has 3 republican members ready to vote for the $5 billion penalty, but two democratic chairmen are holding out their final vote and looking to push for a stiffer punishment.
Though FTC rules allow for a majority vote to pass a ruling, Simmons is looking to avoid partisanship and currently working with Democrats to come to an agreement.
Facebook, as part of this new agreement with the FTC, is looking to create a new position within its company that would focus on privacy and policy compliance.