Facebook Is Facing Government Consequences For Its Privacy Lapses

Facebook is facing government consequences in both the United States and the United Kingdom for it’s privacy mishaps.

In early 2018, it was revealed that Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million users to a researcher at Cambridge Analytica. The data was harvested through a quiz the researcher developed. Data was collected not only from people who took the quiz, but a loophole in the Facebook API allowed it to collect data from Facebook friends of the quiz takers, too.

Since then, Facebook has been under a lot of scrutiny — from both its users and governments around the world. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee of the UK Parliament recently published a report following its 18-month long investigation of Facebook.

“Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws,” UK lawmakers wrote in their report calling for a code of ethics for tech companies overseen by an independent regulator.

Under the code, social media companies, like Facebook, would be required to remove “harmful” or “illegal” content and be held liable for it, as outlined by The Verge. The outlet noted it’s a widely contested policy in the United States, but it seems the United Kingdom has had enough.

Part of parliament’s response is also over Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to meet with them. In the report, members wrote, “By choosing not to appear before the Committee and by choosing not to respond personally to any of our invitations, Mark Zuckerberg has shown contempt towards both our Committee and the ‘International Grand Committee’ involving members from nine legislators from around the world.’

Although not as forward as the United Kingdom, the United States is also seeking to hold Facebook accountable for its continued privacy lapses.

The Federal Trade Commission is currently negotiating a multi-billion dollar fine with Facebook as a result of its privacy practices following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. According to The Washington Post, the FTC’s inquiry focused on whether Facebook violated a 2011 agreement the company had with the FTC to improve privacy on the platform.

The FTC’s previous order banned Facebook from deceiving users about its privacy practices and put regular checkups in place to monitor the way it uses data, as reported by The Washington Post. 

Even with numbers currently undecided, the fine will be the largest ever placed on a tech company. And if negotiations fall through, the FTC has the power to take Facebook to court.