In what is considered the largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Trade Commission, Facebook will reportedly have to pay the regulatory body $5 billion as settlement for the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018. Sources familiar with the matter have told the Wall Street Journal and several other news outlets have also reported the same. And while this seems like a huge amount, not all politicians are happy with the decision as it just represents a small drop of water in the social media giant’s huge bucket of revenue.
While it is indeed the largest fine from the FTC, 5 billion is only 9% of Facebook’s 2018 revenue and some senators and Congress members believe it is not enough to get the company in line. According to an article on CNBC, the FTC actually took a 3-2 vote with Republicans in favor of the settlement and Democrats against it. The next step would be to have the settlement reviewed by the Department of Justice.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner said that a financial fine is not enough and that a “fundamental structural reforms” are needed to ensure that their privacy issues are settled once and for all. And since he believes the FTC won’t act on it, he is calling on Congress to be the one to put “reasonable guardrails” to protect user and data privacy. Republican Congressman David Cicilline said that the fine is just a slap on the wrist and will not be enough to push them to “think twice about their responsibility” when it comes to protecting their users.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the reported fine is a result of an investigation that began back in March 2018. Political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly had access to the data of 87 million Facebook users and was able to “sway” public opinion on certain political matters that were important to the 2016 presidential election because of this information. This may have been a violation of the 2011 agreement where Facebook had to clearly notify users that a third-party was accessing their data.
Since then Facebook has made several changes to the way third parties are able to access user data but a lot of people still believe these measures are not enough. There have been a lot of news after the scandal which clearly shows that our data isn’t protected enough and that there have to be some major changes within the company to be able to do so.