Facebook US Settlement Could Impose 20 Years Of Oversight


A deal with the FTC reportedly in the works could extend oversight of Facebook’s data practices, but critics say it’s too little, too late

Facebook is nearing a settlement with US regulators over its privacy and data practices that would put it under 20 years of oversight, Reuters reported.

The deal with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would resolve a probe into whether it violated a similar pact dating from 2011, which Facebook said it did not.

The probe centres on Facebook’s handling of last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the now-defunct political consultancy allegedly misappropriated data on some 87 million users.

Under the 2011 consent decree, Facebook, agreed to keep user data private except after obtaining explicit consent, and to other conditions, including conduct audits by a third party every two years for a period of 20 years.

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Some politicians and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes have pointed out that the 2011 arrangement failed to prevent the Cambridge Analytica incident from occurring.

They have called for more stringent measures, such as forcing Facebook to sell off properties such as the WhatsApp messaging system, acquired in 2014, and Instagram, which it bought in 2012.

Facebook has reportedly been in negotiations with the FTC for several months, and last month set aside $3 billion (£2.32bn) for what it said could be a fine totalling $3bn to $5bn.

No deal is expected this week, and any settlement could be a month away, according to unnamed people cited by Reuters.

Last week US senators Richard Blumenthal and Josh Hawley wrote to the FTC criticising aspects of a potential settlement, such as elevating oversight of privacy policies and practices to the board level and requiring Facebook to be more aggressive in policing its nominal policies.

They said even a $5bn fine would be too little and said top officials, possibly including chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, should be held personally responsible.

Several governments, including the UK, have indicated they want social media firms to be more closely regulated.

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