Multibillion Dollar Fine Possible For Facebook In US For Privacy Lapses: Report

According to a report published in the Washington Post on Thursday, the US based largest social media platform of the world Facebook could be facing penalties to the tune of billions of dollars as it attempts to settle a case with the US government which is related to the lapses made by the company over data privacy. It was reported that the two parties are currently in negotiations to arrive at an appropriate settlement amount.

The amount for the settlement has not yet been agreed upon by the US Federal Trade Commission and Facebook, claimed the newspaper report which was based on information from two sources who are reportedly well apprised of the negotiations. The two sources were not named in the report.

For the fourth quarter of 2018m, revenues of $16.9 billion and profit of $6.9 billion was recently reported by Facebook.

Since last year, investigations by the FTC has been ongoing in relation to allegations and revelations about the inappropriate manner in which Facebook had shared personal information of more than 87 million of users of its platform in America to the United Kingdom based political consulting company Cambridge Analytica – which has closed down a few months after the emergence of the privacy breach scandal.

The investigation of the FTC has been concentrated on whether Facebook had violated a 2011 agreement that it had signed with the FTC which carried a pledge on the social media company’s part of safeguarding users’ privacy by handing over and sharing of users’ data with Cambridge Analytica. The investigation is also looking into allegations of some other privacy disputes related to Facebook.

The manner in which Facebook does business could also be a part of an ultimate settlement between the two parties.

There was no direct response of Facebook to the Washington Post report available in the media. A quote of a spokeswoman of the company was however available in which she said: “We have been working with the FTC and will continue to work with the FTC.”

There was also no comment from the FTC.

Till date, the largest ever fine that has been imposed by the FTC on any company over issues related to lapses in privacy and data security was $22.5 million which was imposed on Google in 2012. Other issues have however seen the agency making settlement against much larger amounts of fines. For example, a $1.2 billion settlement fine was imposed on the pharmaceutical company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in 2015 by the FTC in relation to antitrust violations engaged in by its acquired company Cephalon.

(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)

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