Public Knowledge Urges FTC to Tie Any Facebook Fine to Protecting Users
Public Knowledge Urges FTC to Tie Any Facebook Fine to Protecting Users
Public Knowledge Urges FTC to Tie Any Facebook Fine to Protecting Users

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    Facebook announced yesterday that it expects to pay a fine up to $5 billion dollars over accusations that the company violated its 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission over consumer privacy on the social media platform. The company also said there can be no assurances as to the terms of resolution of the investigation.

    The following statement may be attributed to Charlotte Slaiman, Competition Policy Counsel of Public Knowledge:

    “It is appropriate that Facebook is anticipating a significant fine for what appears to be a violation of the company’s FTC consent decree on user privacy. However, it's far more important that the FTC achieves ongoing remedies at Facebook, not just a fine.

    “The FTC should focus on directly changing how Facebook treats user data. This requires a new plan for giving users greater control over what data is collected, how it is used, and where it is transferred, as well as ongoing monitoring to make sure the plan is being followed.

    “Instead of just fining Facebook, the FTC could also require Facebook to spend a portion of the huge fine on making real changes through a new consent decree. Thus far, Facebook has been reluctant to invest in user privacy, offer interoperability for competitors, or provide effective content moderation to shield consumers from misinformation campaigns and harassment — and the company has avoided other needed changes altogether. As part of the remedy for the violation, Facebook should be required to invest in making space for competition and consumer choice. They should also pay to fund an outside monitoring group to audit compliance and effectiveness of the changes, and to fund a long-term consumer education campaign about data privacy.

    “A fine is not enough to protect consumers. Consumers deserve real privacy from Facebook, and real choices in the marketplace if Facebook fails on privacy again in the future.”

    You may view our recent blog post, “A Real Remedy the FTC Should Demand of Facebook,” for more information.