FTC Fines Facebook Record $5 Billion for Privacy Lapses

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

(CN) – Tech giant Facebook will be fined about $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission over lapses in user privacy and unauthorized access to data reports.

The fine is the largest ever imposed on a technology company. Terms of the fine were approved this week amid a long-running investigation into Facebook’s privacy failings, including the news that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained unauthorized access to the personal information of 87 million Facebook users.

Multiple news sources reported Friday the roughly $5 billion settlement agreement was approved this week by FTC commissioners in a 3-2 vote, with the Republican majority supporting the fine and the Democratic commissioners objecting.

Both the FTC and Facebook declined to comment.

The agreement will now be reviewed by the Justice Department according the news sources, citing anonymous sources.

Then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign hired Cambridge Analytica, which was funded by Republican donor Robert Mercer and Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon. The company used a personality quiz and app to scrape the private information of users and friends of the users.

Though only about 270,000 Facebook users took the quiz, the app was able to access the data of millions more.

In 2011, Facebook promised to improve privacy policies and protect user data from unauthorized access. It’s unclear if the settlement will end the long-term investigation into the tech giant’s errors in safeguarding user data. The probe is said to have looked beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal and broached into Facebook’s myriad of missteps with privacy and security abuses.

Under Facebook’s agreement with the FTC, the company is required to have better transparency about how it shares users’ data with third-party businesses.

In 2012, Google paid a $22.5 million penalty for falsely stating to users of Apple’s Safari browser that it would not track their website visits or target ads toward those users.

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