Cecilia Kang, New York Times:
The Federal Trade Commission is in the advanced stages of its investigation into whether Facebook violated privacy rules and is expected to seek large fines from the company, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.
The highest financial penalty imposed on a tech company was Google’s $22 million settlement in 2012 for privacy violations. In the December meeting, the commissioners discussed a higher fine for Facebook, the people said.
John D. McKinnon, Wall Street Journal:
The FTC has been probing whether Facebook violated terms of an earlier consent decree when data of tens of millions of its users was transferred to Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that did work for the campaign of President Trump.
News of the investigation’s status was first reported by Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin for the Washington Post.
So far in its current fiscal year, Facebook has made over $17 billion in profit before taxes. The company will announce its fourth quarter results at the end of the month; typically, that’s its biggest quarter. A fine of approximately the same size as was paid by Google is simply a business expense for a company with a bank account like Facebook’s. Hitting them hard in the pocketbook with a fine in the hundreds of millions of dollars might produce long-lasting change, but I’m not optimistic. There’s just too much money to be made when every data point collected on individuals has value, and there are few restrictions on how it may be acquired or used. This industry needs to be regulated.