FTC eyes personal punishment for Mark Zuckerberg over privacy
The Federal Trade Commission is mulling ways to hold Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible for Facebook’s privacy lapses, including fines that would ding the CEO’s own wallet, according to a new report.
The watchdog, which started probing Facebook last year over data breaches tied to the 2016 presidential election, is looking at the 34-year-old billionaire’s past statements on privacy to see whether increased government oversight over his leadership is warranted, according to The Washington Post.
In an appearance before Congress last year, Zuckerberg said that he is “responsible for what happens” at Facebook due to his position as founder and CEO.
The report said that the FTC is considering fining Zuckerberg personally in order to send a message to other big companies in Silicon Valley that their days of playing it fast and loose with user data are numbered.
Another possible plan would see Zuckerberg and other executives regularly certifying the social network’s privacy practices to its board, according to the report.
The FTC declined to comment when contacted by The Post. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
The FTC opened its probe in March 2018 following reports showing Trump campaign-affiliated research firm Cambridge Analytica was able to hoover up the personal data of nearly 90 million Facebook users to better target them with political ads.
The investigation seeks to determine whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 consent decree it signed with the FTC, which restricted the ways it could share users’ personal data.
The two sides have been reportedly close to a settlement for months, including negotiations over a record multibillion dollar fine. The FBI, SEC and Justice Department also joined the probe last July.
Facebook and FTC reached the 2011 settlement after the agency accused the social network of deceiving its users “by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public,” the FTC said at the time.
Among other things, Facebook had told users that third-party apps on its site wouldn’t be able to access their data. Nevertheless, the apps got access to almost all of their personal information, according to the FTC.
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