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Facebook to Pay $5bn Fine Over Privacy Violations

The Facebook case is being looked at as a measure of the Donald Trump administration’s willingness to regulate US tech companies

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FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

Facebook has reportedly reached a whopping $5 billion settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the Cambridge Analytica privacy violations, the media reported.

FTC commissioners voted by 3-2 with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition to the penalty, Xinhua news agency quoted a Wall Street Journal report as saying on Friday.

The personal data of over 87 million Facebook users were violated by the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

The FTC opened a probe last year into the matter after the social networking giant admitted Cambridge Analytica acquired detailed personal information of more than 87 million Facebook users via an academic researcher.

The report of the $5 billion settlement, the largest ever by the FTC against a tech company over privacy issues after a $22.5 million settlement with Google in 2012, led to Facebook’s stock price rise on Friday.

The reason for the stock price surge was because the settlement money is hardly a quarter of Facebook’s annual profit that met with records this year.

The FTC also did not say anything about breaking up Facebook – a call that has been rising in the US political corridors.

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FILE – The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

The Facebook-FTC matter has now been moved to the US Justice Department for a review.

It is still unclear what restrictions are on Facebook’s handling of user privacy in the settlement. FTC and Facebook declined to comment on the story.

Battling several privacy violations, Facebook in April said it has kept aside $3-$5 billion, anticipating a record fine coming from the US FTC.

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“We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3 billion to $5 billion,” Facebook had said.

As part of its settlement with the US FTC, the social media giant has also been asked to “strengthen its privacy practices”.

The Facebook case is being looked at as a measure of the Donald Trump administration’s willingness to regulate US tech companies. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Files Lawsuit Against Data Analytics Firm For Using User’s Data

Facebook sues data analytics firm for harvesting users' data

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Facebook has filed a federal lawsuit in California court against New Jersey-based data analytics firm OneAudience for secretly harvesting its users' data. Pixabay

Stung by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has filed a federal lawsuit in California court against New Jersey-based data analytics firm OneAudience for secretly harvesting its users’ data.

According to the lawsuit, OneAudience improperly accessed and collected user data from Facebook and other social media companies by paying App developers to install a malicious Software Development Kit (SDK) in their apps.

“After a user installed one of these apps on their device, the malicious SDK enabled OneAudience to collect information about the user from their device and their Facebook, Google, or Twitter accounts, in instances where the user logged into the app using those accounts,” read the lawsuit. Security researchers first flagged OneAudience’s behaviour to Facebook as part of its data abuse bounty programme.

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According to the lawsuit, OneAudience improperly accessed and collected user data from Facebook and other social media companies. Pixabay

Facebook, and other affected companies, then took enforcement measures against OneAudience.

“Facebook’s measures included disabling apps, sending the company a cease and desist letter, and requesting their participation in an audit, as required by our policies. OneAudience declined to cooperate,” said Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation. “This is the latest in our efforts to protect people and increase accountability of those who abuse the technology industry and users,” she added.

In November last year, Facebook and Twitter admitted that data of hundreds of users was improperly accessed by some third-party apps on Google Play Store as they logged into those apps.

Security researchers discovered that the One Audience and Mobiburn software development kits (SDK) provided access to users’ data, including email addresses, usernames, and recent tweets, on both the platforms.

Twitter and Facebook said they will notify those whose information was likely shared through apps.

Facebook has sued several third-party platforms in the recent past for scrapping users’ data, including Israeli surveillance vendor NSO Group that sells malicious software Pegasus to government agencies.

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“Through these lawsuits, we will continue sending a message to people trying to abuse our services that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation, and advance the state of the law when it comes to data misuse and privacy,” said the company. (IANS)