WASHINGTON — Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are discussing a settlement over privateness violations that might quantity to a file, multibillion-dollar superb, based on three folks with information of the talks.
The firm and the F.T.C.’s shopper safety and enforcement workers have been in negotiations over a monetary penalty for claims that Facebook violated a 2011 privateness consent decree with the company, mentioned the folks, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of the investigation is personal.
In 2011, Facebook promised a collection of measures to guard person privateness after an investigation discovered it had harmed customers with its dealing with of person information.
The present talks haven’t but reached the F.T.C.’s 5 commissioners for a vote and it’s unclear how shut the two sides are to wrapping up the almost 11-month investigation. The commissioners met in mid-December and have been up to date by workers members that they’d at that time discovered appreciable proof of violations of the 2011 consent decree.
The F.T.C. started its investigation into Facebook’s mishandling of information after The New York Times reported in March 2018 that the data of 87 million users had been harvested by a British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, without their permission.
Facebook confirmed the negotiations with the F.T.C., which could still break down and lead to litigation. The discussions were first reported by The Washington Post.
Facebook’s 2011 consent decree requires the company to seek permission from users for plans to share their data with third parties. The trade commission also requires Facebook to notify it when third parties misuse this data.
Some F.T.C. officials have pressed for maximum penalties because of several new reports of potential privacy breaches since the start of the investigation. The agency can seek up to $41,000 for each violation found by the agency. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, 87 million people were affected.
The highest financial penalty imposed by the F.T.C. so far was a $22.5 million fine on Google for violating an agreement to protect consumer data.
Continued news reports of data violations, including a Times report about data-sharing between Facebook and partner tech companies in December, have raised concerns among F.T.C. officials of setting the fine too low, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
The agency is under pressure to show teeth in its Facebook investigation, and the company’s missteps over the past two years have made it a target for lawmakers. Members of Congress have complained that the F.T.C. is lagging behind European regulators that have taken a tougher stand with internet companies.