$5 bn US fine set for Facebook on privacy probe

Washington: US regulators have approved a $5 billion penalty to be levied on Facebook to settle a probe into the social network’s privacy and data protection lapses, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The newspaper said the Federal Trade Commission approved the settlement in a 3-2 vote, with the two Democratic members of the consumer protection agency dissenting. According to the report, the deal, which would be the largest penalty ever imposed by the FTC for privacy violations, still needs approval from the Justice Department before it is finalised.

Although details have not yet been released, the deal will likely include restrictions on how Facebook is able to use personal data. Charlotte Slaiman of the consumer group Public Knowledge thinks it is unlikely the restrictions will be overly harsh. “We don’t yet know key aspects of the settlement: whether Facebook must make any changes to its business model or practices as a result,” said Charlotte Slaiman, the group’s Competition Policy Counsel. “By itself, this fine will not be sufficient to change Facebook’s behaviour.” — AFP