The privacy investigation conducted on Facebook inc regarding the major data breach by the company exposed in March might result in a record fine against the company, according to a person who is familiar with the matter.
A penalty is being subjected to the social-media giant against the company’s violation of a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that required the company to take a series of steps to protect users’ personal information, said the person who asked not be named because the investigation is confidential.
The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Facebook since last year and the probe maybe months yet from completion. The FTC has not yet finalized the total amount of the penalty.
Nevertheless, it is unclear as of now if Facebook will settle with the FTC by accepting a significant financial penalty, which is expected to be much larger than the $22.5 million fine the agency imposed on Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google in 2012.
The FTC opened its investigation on Facebook in the wake of the disclosure that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to information on about 70 million Facebook users in the US. Facebook, however, denied the incident was a violation.
After a series of data-privacy scandals from Facebook were thrown some lights on, FTC chairman, Joe Simons, has been under massive pressure to come down hard on the social media platform. The revelation has also resulted in efforts on Washington to pass comprehensive legislation to better protect the personal information collected by the nation’s technology firms. Lawmakers and advocates have questioned the FTC for not taking responsibility to crack down on privacy violations even with its limited authority.
Both the FTC and Facebook have denied commenting on the investigation. However, Washington Post reported earlier on the matter and said five commissions met to discuss the issue.
The former head of the FTC’s consumer protection division said the fine could reach hundreds of millions of dollars while Bloomberg intelligence estimates it could reach up to billions.
The investigation from FTC is just one of the several investigations being conducted on Facebook. The attorney general for the District of Columbia sued the company in December while other states have opened investigations. Facebook also admitted that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI are also investigating the company.