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FTC will not even tell the Senate if it wants to try to lose a $ 1 trillion fine to Facebook



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In 2011, Facebook settled a case with the Federal Trade Commission and signed a single agreement in which it undertook to comply with several directives to protect the privacy of users. It's quite possible that this year's Cambridge Analytica scandal showed that Facebook violated the deal and could face "billions of dollars" in fines. But eight months later, the FTC does not say what is happening with its investigation.

On Tuesday, FTC commissioners appeared before the Senate subcommittee on consumer and trade protection to discuss the agency's current priorities. The list of concerns of almost every senator was at the forefront of the FTC's focus on protecting consumer privacy and corporate responsibility in the technology sector. In his opening statement, Senator Jerry Moran, chairman of the Republican Subcommittee, criticized the recent data breaches suffered by Facebook and Google. He acknowledged that it was absolutely clear that it was time to pass a federal law on the protection of consumer data. He said he hoped to work with the FTC to develop this legislation and learn the tools the agency needed to do its job.

If the FTC does its job and looks to see if Facebook has violated its 2011 consent decree, the agency's president, Joseph Simons, would not say. When Senator Richard Blumenthal asked Simons when the FTC investigation would be over and when the results would be presented to the public, Simons would just say, "It's inappropriate for me to comment on a specific non-public inquiry." Was the usual answer to the question – any questions about his investigations, including when Senator Edward Markey asked whether the FTC was reviewing the controversial targeting of YouTube and Google on child victims of deceptive marketing practices.

Two major issues were raised at the hearing: the FTC's claim that it needs more resources and the recognition by all that the agency did not do much in law enforcement . In his opening statement, Commissioner Rohit Chopra linked the two issues, saying that too often the FTC was willing to accept a settlement in order to avoid a costly lawsuit. "Although heavy penalties make good headlines, I wonder if they really deterred the crime," said Chopra.

This point makes it all the more obvious the fact that the agency has an excellent record, for example, to follow up the implementation of its threats. Facebook admitted to mismanaging the data of 87 million users and leaving it in the hands of a political data analysis firm that worked for the campaign for the election. President of Trump. He was informed in 2015 but was not made public until March. The application developer who used all of this Facebook data requested permission from its users, but did not obtain permission to collect data from their friends. This could be a violation of the 2011 consent decree, in which Facebook agreed to notify users and obtain explicit permission before sharing data with a third party that does not fall within the privacy settings of those users.

In March, the Washington Post met with David Vladeck, the former head of the FTC on the Facebook settlement. Vladeck told La Poste that the Cambridge Analytica case "raised serious questions about compliance with the FTC's consent decree". Facebook rejected "any suggestion of violation of the consent decree", but Vladeck nevertheless said that he was expecting the FTC to open an investigation. . Although Vladeck told the Post that Facebook could be fined "billions of dollars," because of his agreement to pay $ 40,000 per violation, he doubted the agency would impose such a hand.

Still, the FTC could do Something, nothing? Really. It's odd to listen to Facebook investor calls since the scandal that erupted earlier this year and never hear about the possibility of a possible fine. It's almost as if investors did not believe that the FTC would do its job. I can not think of a better way for the agency to prove that this idea is wrong.

[C-Span]

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