Facebook fined $5bn by US FTC for data protection breaches

  • A $5bn fine has been formally issued to Facebook by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in response to high-profile data protection violations such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

    The US FTC revealed its biggest fine to date recently when it levied a $5bn penalty on global social media giant Facebook for misuse of user personal data. The fine was officially confirmed in an announcement today, and comes alongside new rules about handling of user data that Facebook will have to strictly adhere to in the future.

    Facebook has been found to have severely misused customer data in recent years, with the most high-profile case being the major Cambridge Analytica scandal. It was found that Facebook permitted Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of user profiles without obtaining consent, which was then used for micro-targeting advertising to sway political opinions. It's believed that this played a significant role in the 2016 US presidential elections and the Brexit referrendum.

    The FTC complaint alleges that Facebook had committed to a programme of user privacy protection in 2012 but had failed to implement it, that it misrepresented to consumers how their data would be shared with third party apps on the social media platform, and that it engaged in deceptive data collection practices. One key example was the collection of phone numbers for two-factor security authentication, which were then used illicitly to help target marketing.

    While the $5bn fine is the largest ever handed out by the FTC, it amounts to less than 10% of the company's 2018 global revenue. This is still higher than the 2-4% cap imposed on fines issued by EU data protection offices under the EU GDPR legislation, and it's hoped that it's significant enough to prompt Facebook to review and improve its data protection standards.

    Source: Silicon Republic

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