WashPost: Facebook May Strike Privacy Deal With FTC


Politico reports that Facebook and the FTC are now negotiating a settlement that could require Facebook to create an independent privacy oversight committee along with a number of other steps designed to safeguard user data.

Under this proposed negotiated deal, Facebook board members might sit on the oversight committee, which will meet quarterly and issue reports.

Facebook could also have to submit to FTC-approved checkups by third-party watchdogs, and it would be required to report privacy violations as soon as possible.

Facebook announced last week that it had set aside $3 billion to cover the settlement.

How effective that would be in stopping the same from happening again is hard to say - you'd assume, at least for the most part, that Facebook would have learned its lessons about user data sharing and wouldn't put such at risk of unauthorized access again. The changes would accompany a record-breaking, multi-billion-dollar fine that the FTC has considered levying against Facebook.

Facebook and the FTC declined to comment.

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As The Washington Post notes, negotiations between Facebook and the FTC are ongoing, and the settlement could change drastically before it's final. Even if Facebook were to stop all such future breaches, which is the best it can now do, the existence of past leaked data and databases still poses a concern. But the scope of the FTC's probe quickly expanded, following a slew of additional revelations past year about the company's data-sharing relationships with other app developers, device makers and popular websites.

Facebook's announcement of the expected cost of the settlement, which would be a record in a USA privacy case, is already being criticized for not going far enough. U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, who is presiding over a class-action lawsuit stemming from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting, recently suggested that Facebook disclosed its practices to users via privacy policies.

"A lot of people now are seeing this consent decree investigation as a fundamental test of the agency's usefulness", Miller said.

It appears that the FTC envisions this official to have a similar role as the privacy committee's.

"This is a part of the vision that I'm particularly excited about", he said.