U.S. orders Facebook to pay $5 billion fines for privacy violations

Facebook

The world’s largest social network and a tech giant, Facebook Inc. has now been ordered to pay a record fine of $5 billion.

According to order and decision by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Facebook violated the privacy of its users through its privacy practices that exposed its users.

In a vote driven decision that saw the FTC voting 3-2 along party lines to adopt the settlement, the decision will then be referred to a court for final approval.

According to a report by Reuters, the decision was disputed by Democratic commissioners who argued that the fine is a slap on the wrist.

“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how personal information is shared Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons, a Republican, in a statement cited by Reuters.

Voicing his disagreement, Democratic FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said the penalty provided “blanket immunity” for Facebook executives “and no real restraints on Facebook’s business model” and does “not fix the core problems that led to these violations.”

The fines were as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal which led to the exposure of personal details of about 87 million Facebook users to the UK political consultancy. Despite the fact that Cambridge Analytica does not exist anymore, the FTC said in its decision that Cambridge’s former CEO Alexander Nix and former app developer Aleksandr Kogan have both reached a settlement with the commission.

However, Facebook was not only fined but given a new mode of operation as regards the use of its users’ data. According to Reuters:

The FTC said Zuckerberg or others filing a false certification could face civil and criminal penalties.

Facebook also is barred from asking for email passwords to other services when consumers sign up.

Facebook is barred from using telephone numbers obtained in a security feature, like two-factor authentication, for advertising and must get user consent if it plans to use data from facial recognition technology.

The FTC fines on the tech giant are coming around the period when it is undergoing various criticisms and mounting concerns over its planned Libra digital currency.

While Facebook has assured the Congress and the Senate it will not launch the digital currency until it answers all questions, there are concerns that Facebook’s move into financial services would have global and far-reaching consequences on its users.