Senator Blackburn: Facebook’s Fine Should Have Been ‘$50 Billion’

July 17th, 2019 12:54 PM

Legislators expressed their frustration with the lack of disciplinary treatment of Facebook at a Senate hearing yesterday. 

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) took a moment during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on “Google and Censorship through Search Engines” to complain about the Federal Trade Commission’s lenient stance toward Facebook. She said, “Facebook has been hit with a $5 billion fine from the FTC. In my opinion, that’s not enough. They should have been fined $50 billion.” 

“We all know they have been in violation of privacy agreements,” Blackburn continued. She then warned Google of the upcoming investigation of the company by the Justice Department. “If Microsoft’s experience with their 20-year anti-trust saga is any indication, then I hope you realize this is very serious.” 

Blackburn tweeted July 12 that she was the leader of the Senate’s Tech Task Force. She wrote, “.@realDonaldTrump and I agree — Big Tech MUST be held accountable.”

The FTC gave Facebook a fine of $5 billion on July 12, according to Wired. This disappointed several of the platform’s biggest critics, including Senators Josh Hawley (R-MI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The two senators wrote a letter to the FTC in May before the fine was announced asking that Facebook be “restructured.” They accused Facebook of “misuse and abuse of personal data.”

Blackburn took the time at the hearing to remind the Google representative, Karan Bhatia, that it was not Facebook that most people villainized. “Unfortunately for you all, people put Google at the top of the list,” she said. 

Hawley and Blumenthal penned another letter to the FTC July 16 calling the proposed fine “woefully inadequate” and asking for a detailed explanation of the process used to determine this fine. The Commission is expected to respond August 6.