US regulators approve $5B Facebook settlement over privacy issues

U.S. regulators approve $5 billion Facebook settlement over privacy issues WSJ

But then, in 2016, Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica, a political data-mining firm, to scrape the data of 50 million users to help the campaign of now-president Donald Trump.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the vote by the commission.

Facebook told investors in April that it expected fines from the investigation to be between $3 billion and $5 billion.

For many companies, a $5 billion fine would be crippling.

While the deal resolves a major regulatory headache for Facebook, the Silicon Valley firm still faces further potential anti-trust probes as the FTC and Justice Department undertake a wide-ranging review of competition among the biggest U.S. tech companies.

The FTC has been looking into whether Facebook violated a legal agreement it had with the United States government to keep its users' data private.

Representatives for Facebook and the FTC didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Seattle natural disaster : Quake rattles Washington state today, followed by aftershock today
The quake was relatively shallow, but according to the USGS map , it was felt all the way to the Canadian border. The US Geological Survey (USGS) reports that a magnitude 4.4 quake shook the Seattle area early Friday morning.

Two Democratic commissioners voted against the settlement, the details of which haven't been disclosed.

The case now moves to the Justice Department's civil division for review.

The agency's previous record fine in a privacy action came in 2012, when Alphabet Inc.'s Google paid $22.5 million to settle claims it misrepresented its privacy assurances to Apple Inc.'s Safari users.

Nor was Cambridge Analytica the only violation the FTC uncovered: during the investigation, which began last March, the regulator found over 150 data-sharing partnerships with third-party corporations that saw reams of private data change hands without the knowledge or consent of the user.

Shares finished at $204.87, up almost 2% on the day, and have reached their highest level in almost a year. The stock is up more than 50 percent since the beginning of the year. Rep David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said in a statement that the fine gives Facebook "a Christmas present five months early".

The $5 billion figure may be a record-breaker, but it represents less than Facebook reported in net profit ($5.43 billion) for the first quarter of 2019 alone. Congress started an antitrust investigation into how the biggest tech companies have harmed consumers and impeded competition. It's very disappointing that such an enormously powerful company that engaged in such serious misconduct is getting a slap on the wrist. The fine, however, doesn't spell the end of Facebook's troubles. This includes almost a dozen by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, which oversees privacy regulation in the European Union.

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