Published: Sun, January 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Facebook privacy lapses may lead to record fine

Facebook privacy lapses may lead to record fine

Only 270,000 Facebook users downloaded Kogan's app, but he was able to gather data about many of those users' contacts.

The commission is considering hitting Facebook with a penalty that would top its previous record fine of US$22.5 million, which it dealt to Google in 2012 for bypassing the privacy controls in Apple Inc's Safari browser, according to the Washington Post.

A Facebook spokesperson told Fortune the company had no comment. The FTC has restrictive statutory limits on the scale of fines it can impose, which can be vastly out of proportion to modern consumer and Internet firms' profits.

The Post's report cites three people with knowledge of the discussions.

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Privacy advocates have charged that Facebook violated the terms of that agreement repeatedly, as evidenced by its entanglement with Cambridge Analytica. It's also not clear whether the agency has settled on how much to seek from the Menlo Park, California-based company or whether it will also require changes to Facebook's data collection and sharing practices. The data firm, which had ties to the Trump campaign, improperly harnessed personal information about the social networking site's users in order to better target voters with political messages.

The incident, brought to light by a former Cambridge Analytica employee, sparked an global backlash. Lawmakers in the US Congress summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify for the first time on Capitol Hill, where he apologised to lawmakers for the privacy violations. The probe may be months from completion, the person said. The attorney general for the District of Columbia sued the company in December while other states have opened investigations.

The FTC has issued some large fines in recent years against companies that deceive consumers.

The FTC hasn't yet finalized its plans, according to the Washington Post. Volkswagen was required to spend more than $14 billion in a settlement related to its deceptive emissions tests, and fraud-protection company LifeLock had to pay more than $100 million for failing to protect its data. Facebook has said the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also investigating.

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