April 24, 2019
Facebook’s Looming FTC Fine Due to Chronic Privacy Lapses Should Be Only the Beginning of the Penalty Phase
Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
Note: Facebook announced in its quarterly earnings report today that it expects a fine between $3 billion and $5 billion from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has examined user privacy issues at Facebook dating back to 2011. Facebook users suffered a massive security breach in September that potentially exposed the information of tens of millions of users.
The market has helpfully signaled to the FTC how it should penalize Facebook for its pervasive failure to protect user privacy – even after entering into a consent decree with the FTC to do just that. The financial markets greeted the company’s estimate of up to $5 billion in fines as welcome news; in monetary terms, the fine should be at least five times the $3 billion that Facebook has set aside. The agency also should prohibit an array of Facebook policies that suck up information on users – and even nonusers – to fuel the company’s relentless marketing machine without regard to consumer privacy and autonomy.