FTC Cracks Down on Facebook, Google Over Data Privacy
The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on big tech giants and imposing stiff fines on Facebook and Google, both accused of violating federal data privacy laws protecting users, including children.
The FTC announced Wednesday a $5 billion penalty against Facebook, the largest ever imposed on a company for violating consumers’ data privacy, and for “deceiving users about their ability to control the privacy of their personal information,” the agency said.
“The relief is designed not only to punish future violations, but more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations,” according to a statement from Joe Simons, the FTC chairman.
The FTC is also expected to levy a multi-million dollar fine against Google, over allegations that YouTube violated federal data privacy laws protecting children, according to a report this week in The Washington Post. Google is the parent company of YouTube. A recent study found that YouTube was the third most popular tool in K-12 educational institutions across the U.S. last year. In the same analysis, Facebook ranked 23rd among the top 40 ed-tech products accessed.
A spokeswoman for the FTC would not comment on the matter, saying no announcement had been made in the case against Google. A spokesperson for Google also declined to comment.
That investigation stemmed from concerns that children streaming YouTube videos had their data improperly collected—a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which requires commercial websites and apps to get informed parental consent before collecting personal information on children under age 13.
Last year more than 20 consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint with the FTC arguing that YouTube was gathering personal data from children and using it to target advertising. YouTube does not require users of its site to sign in or verify their age to view content.
Groups concerned about data privacy protection for children, like Common Sense, lauded the FTC for enforcing COPPA in the case against Google.
“We urge the FTC to keep up the pressure by imposing fines with real monetary teeth and requiring meaningful structural changes from these platforms,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense.
Data Privacy Concerns Continue
In the investigation against Facebook, the FTC alleged that the social media platform repeatedly used deceptive disclosures and settings to undermine users’ privacy preferences. Users’ information was shared with third-party apps without their knowledge, but Facebook took no action despite being aware that these apps were violating the platform’s privacy policies, according to the FTC.
The financial penalty against Facebook also comes with requirements for its operations around data privacy in the future, which the FTC says will boost transparency around data privacy issues. The FTC order establishes an independent privacy committee of the company’s board of directors, the designation of compliance officers, and new external oversights, among other requirements.
However, Steyer, of Common Sense, said the requirements don’t “require real structural changes” of Facebook and “appears to absolve Facebook of any liability over additional abuses like tricking kids into in-app purchases,” he said in a statement. He called for policymakers to continue to work to hold Facebook accountable for lapses in privacy protections.
Jules Polonetsky, the CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, also raised concerns and called for the FTC to be given civil penalty authority and more funding to conduct more privacy investigations and to increase its ability to hold companies accountable for privacy violations. He noted that the FTC does not have fining authority for privacy violations unless they relate to specific statutes like COPPA.
Follow EdWeek Market Brief on Twitter @EdMarketBrief or connect with us on LinkedIn.
The privacy policies if big data techs is one hundred percent a totally violation of We The People’s expectation to privacy the government is barred from taking data off of paper or any other media just because you put the paperwork reduction Act and the paperwork elimination act and stored data on another medium that does not give you the right to come into our homes or private effects or our private data that’s the bottom line now the government wants to use that same technique to collect our data you’re all violating the Constitution there is no United States for that reason right there because you’ve stolen our data and look what you did with it you didn’t serve us with it better serve us you better enrichen yourself and better increase your Monopoly on power took away the voice of the people and reserved it for yourself that’s where the violation is taking place it’s plain and simple you can complicate this all you want with all the different words you want to try to twist this up and turn it around like you didn’t do nothing work my private data is my private data no then you know application no online service no world wide Web no Windows Microsoft no nobody has a right to collect my private data without a warrant based on probable cause on a statement sworn under oath or an OMB number as regards to my social security number how many people are using my social security number how many banks have it how many data breaches has the 230 exemption allowed for the telephone companies I used to work for Verizon Information services in the information technology division of all places I know how advertising works now you’re what you’re basically claiming is that you’re selling or private data for free to advertisers that’s so funny where’s my cut in my data you know when I sold display ads we charge corporations for display ads now corporations take our private data they don’t pay us a dime for it they charge us for it they want to be the first one there to provide a service well guess what that’s Monopoly and it’s unconstitutional cuz you’re collecting our data you know we have this expectation to be secure in a homes and in our paperwork it’s not paper that was protected it was the data stored on the paper data is data okay no matter what medium stores you store it on you cannot circumvent the Constitution as you have for the last 30 40 years now airwaves it don’t matter digital it could be analog it could be stored on any type of medium that’s where they’re known or unknown private data is private data and corporations llc’s and third parties they’re not people of people is plural for persons or her son excuse me you must be a person to be part of the people it’s not a corporation that is made up a bunch of people that is constitutionally protected it is each person that is a citizen of the United States has a constitution protection the highest law of the land it is not for corporations we designed this constitution specifically to keep our data private from corporations who are tyrants with what they do analyzing our every move it’s just funny how you guys think you’re getting over on something talk about transparency and government there is no transparency in government there’s what do they call it when you have executive privilege and you have seals and you have no accountability with local state tribunal or any of the three branches of government there is no accountability to the people but they expect us to be transparent hahaha guess what it’s not the government that rules the people it’s the people that will the government, that’s what I have to say about it my name is Eric Cyrus Anderson I am of the People by the people and for the people out of the many comes one holding the sacred fire of Liberty I’m the one that knows California civil code of proceedings 19 CCP 19-19 virus what is that a delivery platform for viruses that that sounds spread from human to human that’s all covid-19 is you can’t stop a common cold you cannot provide a shot against common cold we’ve known this for centuries the cold goes around we spread it around each other and we get heard immunity automatically by putting on Master you’re taking away or hurt immunity and you’re trying to capitalize on viruses what you’re trying to control what you can’t and basically what’s going to end up doing is all this technology you’re using you don’t understand what you’re doing taking brain stem cells out of babies and shooting them into people that is the most Savage thing I’ve ever heard tearing a baby out of a mother’s stomach opening it up taking its brain stem cells what are you people thinking oh my God I can’t wait till the Lord comes back and straightens all this because in the end the rich the powerful you’re not going to be able to stand and the day of the Lord .