Last year, allegations emerged that Facebook was sharing the private information of its users, without their consent, to third-party app developers—among other things.
The social network hosts around 2.4 billion users—each bringing exclusive information. The company has made billions in monetizing its user information, yet several data-leaks of users’ private information over the years has led to this colossal penalty.
“Today is a good day for consumer privacy in America,” Commissioner Christine Wilson said during the announcement. “This enforcement action provides immediate protections for Facebook users and the $5 billion civil penalty will deter future privacy and data security violations.
Chairman Joe Simons explained how third-party developers obtained the information of Facebook’s users: a user’s data would be shared with the developer if said user’s Facebook friend(s) installed the third-party application.
Facebook allegedly knew about this improper handling of information and didn’t do anything about it. Its facial recognition software was also automatically on for many users by default.
Independent Privacy Committee
“Even though today’s $5 billion penalty is historic, it is just one piece of the relief,” Simons said.
On top of the hefty fine, the FTC has ordered that Facebook establish an “independent privacy committee” that will assess the company’s privacy programs through an independent investigation.
The privacy committee would have members appointed by an individual nominating committee. Members could then only be fired by a “supermajority” of Facebook’s board of directors.
Facebook is required to designate compliance officers to be responsible for its privacy program. Officers subject to approval of new board privacy committee and can be removed only by that committee—not by FB CEO or employees.
— FTC (@FTC) July 24, 2019
“Move fast and break things” was once Facebook’s motto, which Wilson said the privacy committee will help change.
“And so for this reason it was clear that we needed to erect speed bumps requiring both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to slow down and take care with consumer privacy,” she said.
Facebook did not admit to anything the committee accused it of doing.
From NTD News