The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wanted to levy a fine against Facebook in the “tens of billions;” however, the consumer protection agency relented against the social media giant, according to a report.
The Washington Post found in a report that the FTC wanted to levy a fine against Facebook in the tens of billions and impose direct liability on CEO Mark Zuckerberg; however, the social media giant forced the FTC to capitulate and only fine Facebook $5 billion.
The FTC’s fine against Facebook serves as the largest fine the agency has ever given out for privacy violations; although, some politicians such as Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) that the fine serves as a “bargain” for a large tech company that reached $55 billion in revenue in 2018. Facebook’s revenue dwarfs the FTC’s budget by roughly 200 times.
Former FTC officials believe that even though Facebook can easily pay the fine, it still sends a message to the rest of the industry.
Jessica Rich, the former director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said, “Even if $5 billion is something people think is easily payable by Facebook, it is a record-breaking amount by a wide margin.”
“It sends a message,” she added.
Even though the agency gave out the largest fine ever for violating Americans’ privacy, Sens. Hawley and Blumenthal contend that the fine would send a signal to other technology companies that they can continue to “push the boundaries” with privacy.
“If the FTC is seen as traffic police handing out speeding tickets to companies profiting off breaking the law, then Facebook and others will continue to push the boundaries,” the senators wrote to the agency.
The senators wrote to the FTC, “Even a fine in the billions is simply a write-down for the company, and large penalties have done little to deter large tech firms.”