No one is happy with the fine the FTC levied on Facebook. Not even the FTC.
Federal Trade Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter wrote in a July 24 letter that she objected to the $5 billion fine handed to Facebook for privacy violations. “I am skeptical that its terms will have a meaningful disciplining effect on how Facebook treats data and privacy,” she wrote, arguing instead that the FTC should “fight for the right outcome in a public court of law,” against both Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
The majority involved in the FTC decision voted that a court battle would be too long and drawn out to bring any real justice to Facebook and its users. But Slaughter tweeted, “litigation in an open court of law would provide important transparency and accountability. As a steward of public dollars and the public trust, the government should seek justice even if it is not guaranteed to achieve it.”
Slaughter also believed the fine was too small, echoing the complaints of several members of Congress, including (but not limited to) Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), Senator Marsha Blackburn, (R-TN,) Senator Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT), and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). The commissioner tweeted “The $5B is not enough given the scope of the offenses and FB's financial position. This is about the institutions of our democracy.”
In a footnote in the document, Slaughter wrote that she would much rather see “money returned to consumers.”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted his own concern about the settlement on July 24. He said, “This is very disappointing. This settlement does nothing to change Facebook’s creepy surveillance of its own users & the misuse of user data. It does nothing to hold executives accountable. It utterly fails to penalize Facebook in any effective way.”