Describe reported $5 billion fine as “egregiously inadequate”


Washington (July 16, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) today wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding recently reported details about an upcoming settlement with Facebook. Following the Commission’s investigation into the social media platform’s privacy practices, reporting in the Wall Street Journal indicates that the Commission has endorsed a $5 billion settlement, with Republican and Democratic Commissioners split over the decision. The Senators express their bipartisan concern that such a settlement would be egregiously inadequate given the extent of Facebook’s privacy violations. 


“It is clear that a $5 billion fine alone is a far cry from the type of monetary figure that would alter the incentives and behavior of Facebook and its peers,” write the Senators in the letter to all five FTC Commissioners. “The public expects the Commission to put consumers first and to take all necessary steps in your power to remedy Facebook’s privacy problems. We are highly disappointed to learn that the Commission has apparently failed to reach a strong, bipartisan agreement, sending the wrong message to tech companies.”


A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.


The Senators ask the FTC to respond to questions that include:

  • What was the FTC’s process for determining the size of the monetary fine in this settlement? Please describe in detail the FTC’s method for determining the revenue Facebook was able to generate as a result of its violations of user privacy.
  • Did the FTC interview Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and require disclosure of documents from Mr. Zuckerberg during its investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices? If not, why not?
  • Will the FTC name Mr. Zuckerberg and any other member of Facebook management in its new settlement?
  • Will the FTC impose new restrictions on how Facebook collects, uses, and discloses data about its users as part of this settlement? If not, why not?
  • Will the FTC impose restrictions on Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency offering, Libra, as part of this settlement? If not, why not?