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Facebook Faces Record-Setting Fine From Regulators For Privacy Violations

Facebook Faces Record-Setting Fine From Regulators For Privacy Violations
Reports citing sources have suggested that deliberations to hold Facebook responsible for violations of a legally binding agreement with the United States government aimed to ensure security of privacy of its personal data of the users of the social media platform is being undertaken by the US regulators. Reports suggested, if found guilty, Facebook could be imposed a record breaking fine for the violations.
If the fine is imposed, it would be the first major fine against Facebook in the United States since the emergence of the privacy sandal related to Cambridge Analytica, a London based political consultancy, which allegedly accessed personal information of about 87 million American Facebook users without their knowledge and allegedly used it to influence them during the 2017 US presidential elections. The deliberation of the fine is being conducted by the Federal Trade Commission which is a privacy and security watchdog which had started an investigations against the social media company last year.
Analysts expect that the penalty being though about against Facebook would be much more than the $22.5 million fine which was imposed on Google in 2012 by the agency. That is the record fine imposed by the FTC for violation of privacy agreement and for enhancement of security of private information. 
Media reports also said that the agency is yet to finalise the exact findings of the FTC from the investigation against Facebook as well as the total number of fines that can be imposed on the social media platform. Reports said that the matter was discussed by five commissioners of the agency at a private meeting in recent weeks. The commissioners have been briefed about their probe by the staff according to sources and a formal recommendation on fine from them is expected soon. However any recommendation has ot be ratified through a voting of the commissioners.
Sources also reportedly said that meetings about the invesitgations have also been held between the staffers of FTC and Facebook but there is no clarity about whether the social media platform would be willing to come to a settlement with the FTC on the charges.
Strong and aggressive measures against Facebook by FTC were demanded by privacy advocates. "The agency now has the legal authority, the evidence, and the public support to act. There can be no excuse for further delay," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. This organization helped FTC to bring in charges against Facebook in 2011.
The crucial issue that FTC is discussing is whether the business practices with regards to the protections and privacy controls that is offered to consumers, essentially deceived consumers about its practices and whether those practices were in violation of the agreement that Facebook had struck with the FTC. 
According to the agreement, users of the social media is required to inform and take consent from them because their information is shared with third parties in a way that differs from existing privacy settings. The agreement between FTC and Facebook also mandate that the social media company obtain affirmative permission from users before their data is shared with third parties and the FTC also has to be immediately informed in case there is any breach or misuse of users’ private information. The agreement also does not allow Facebook to make deceptive statements about its privacy practices.  

Christopher J. Mitchell

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