back to article Cough up, like, 1% of your valuation and keep up the good work, says FTC: In draft privacy deal, Facebook won't have to change a thing

Facebook will be asked to fork out $5bn in a settlement with America's trade watchdog, the FTC, following last year's Cambridge Analytica fiasco, it was reported Friday. The proposed deal will end an FTC probe into whether the antisocial network broke a 2012-era pledge to better protect its addicts' privacy. In 2018, Facebook …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it just has to swear it won't break that 2012 agreement"

    So, all FB has to do is swear to abide by an agreement it already broke ?

    Man, justice is hard on rich people in the US.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: "it just has to swear it won't break that 2012 agreement"

      I suppose there's some hope that this means they will face something massive if they ever break it again, but knowing politicians and their level of knowledge about technological issues, I doubt it. Without a law that makes it clear what is or isn't allowed, there will continue to be pointless little actions like this one. While I'm clearly disappointed that they haven't managed to change Facebook's approach any, I never really expected Facebook to take any real action, and at least they're receiving some penalty that actually impacts their books.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: "it just has to swear it won't break that 2012 agreement"

      Rich people are better than you or me. Especially the ones that inherited their wealth.

      Just ask them.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: "it just has to swear it won't break that 2012 agreement"

        They earned it.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Probably about as good as the government can do.

    First, you need statutory authority to really stick it to a business, which I am 90% sure the FTC does not have in this case. Second, you have to get something that Facebook, with its armies of lawyers, will not appeal and potentially win in the courts. Third, you don't want X thousands of FB shareholders screaming to their congresscritters about how the government is ruining the investment climate and then Congress comes down on the FTC.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably about as good as the government can do.

      Which is why government regulatory bodies need some space between them and the executive and legislative branches, along with strong laws about revolving doors, to prevent regulatory capture. Of course then people whine about the "career bureaucrats" when they don't like their decisions.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Probably about as good as the government can do.

      "Third, you don't want X thousands of FB shareholders screaming to their congresscritters"

      The people at whom they should scream are FB manglement for getting into this position. And FB manglement are pretty well insulated from this because one of them has a controlling vote.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I couldn't have said it better myself....

    "No level of corporate fine can replace the necessity to hold Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible for the flagrant, repeated violations of Americans' privacy."

    -Senator Ron Wyden

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I couldn't have said it better myself....

      If Zuck had to cough up $5bn from his own money with the threat of more fines to come, you'd soon a corporate turnaround.

    2. Phil Koenig


      Ron Wyden is a rare jewel amongst the cesspit of US politicians these days, and one of the few consistent defenders of personal privacy. In an era where we are constantly bombarded with propaganda trying to convince us that privacy is an old-fashioned concept.

      As if.

  4. AnoniMouse

    Just the tip of the iceberg

    Facebook's "flagrant, repeated violations of Americans' privacy" pale into insignificance compared to the global plundering of users' contact details that took place when Facebook acquired WhatsApp and "shared" [contact] data.

    This was even more of a privacy-wrecking irony as WhatsApp had set out to help individuals protect their privacy.

    No fine can be large enough to compensate for the growing lack of trust in Big Tech that has resulted from Facebook's arrorgance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just the tip of the iceberg

      .. while Google is ever so happy that everyone's attention is at present on Facebook.

      Not whatabouterism, just a reminder that Zuck is far from the only one.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    And it comes to pass

    I can be bothered to find my post from a while ago, but Zuck and co dodge a bullet, they planned for the financial hit, and have already made the fine money back.

    Nice pairing of a smiling Zuck with the article +1 El Reg

  6. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Proposed settlement slammed as ‘a mosquito bite’

    It's probably too much to ask for that they contract dengue, malaria, zika, chikungunya, west nile virus and yellow fever from that bite.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "set aside $3bn in anticipation of an FTC smack-down, leaving the biz with $2.43bn in profit"

    This could be clearer but I'm interpreting this to mean that of the $5bn they had to root down the side of the cushions for $2bn because they'd already put $3bn in the swear box. So the profits for the first quarter would have been $4.43bn. Pro rate that means that annual profits are of the order of $17 to $18bn. But that $3bn set aside had to have come from somewhere, presumably profits in some other quarter. Even if the cost of the fine was spread over multiple quarters it must still have come from overall profits and is well over a quarter of that pro-rate estimated annual profits.

    If I were an ordinary shareholder I'd be a bit narked to find that the business's playing silly buggers had resulted in a fine of over a quarter of a year's profits. In fact, I might be inclined to vote against the board at the next AGM. Of course, this being Facebook that would have no effect whatsoever due to the strange share structure.

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Ripe ACTivIT ProgramMING Exercises/Beta AI Test Runs

    How many trillion$ of fiat currency will secretive and paramilitarised intelligence services providing virtually and practically exactly the same type of product to struggling-to-maintain-and-retain-commanding-order governments have to be fined and by whom and/or what, if the playing fields are not to be totally destroyed and remade quite differently?

    Or do the chiefs and grand wizards squatting there fully expect ACTive Impunity with Immunity and Protection against Crushing Prosecution and Crashing Persecution?

    Can you even imagine that being a successful valid expectation in worlds getting surprisingly smarter and easily more dangerous much quicker than was ever before realised possible?

    There's a whole new vast can of worms/treasure trove of bottomless bounty opened up there for Exploitation and Base Meta Data Feed/Seed/Need Mining, and it is rapidly expanding too with nothing in extant systems enabled to cope or defend against Sublime Surreal Subterranean Attacks/Deep Underground See Sorties.

    And if you would deny that be such, you gotta get out more for you are missing out on what is freely available for exercising/testing/improving.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Ripe ACTivIT ProgramMING Exercises/Beta AI Test Runs

      Here's another Achilles Heel arrow in the very particular and most peculiar quiver .......

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ripe ACTivIT ProgramMING Exercises/Beta AI Test Runs

        Now this bot posts RT propaganda links? Just wonderful. My suggestion is don't click that; there's nothing useful at the other end.

  9. Cliff Thorburn

    No fine can ever restore broken lives, lost relationships, ruined careers, or other relevant loss of chance.

    Sadly the ‘fine’ never reaches the victims, just regurgitated into the next military budgets ready for more ‘exponential’ learnings, where lessons are never learned is it not?

    1. Phil Koenig

      I'd be more supportive of the fine if it could be earmarked for specific purposes, not to include military budgets..

  10. Old Cynic

    A few dollars for the tax man

    Looks more like governments continuing to extract money for tax avoidance to me, no doubt this will be just the first as skint European goverments look forward to getting their hands on many billions without bothering with sorting out the complicated tax mess.

    I'm still amazed that people expect the likes of Facebook to respect privacy - you give them all of your information, use their services, pay no fee and expect them to do that for free? Facebook may have started as an idea to let friends keep in touch but once it grew to a certain size, it had to be monetised and had to keep growing and take over the world.

    Can you really expect a massive, global free service to treat you with respect in any way? If Ford gave away free cars, could you believe they were doing it to provide a service for your benefit?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A few dollars for the tax man

      "you give them all of your information, use their services, pay no fee and expect them to do that for free?"

      No I don't. And I don't use their service and they *still* steal my privacy. That's OK for you too?

      "For free" isn't assumed, but "selling everything you do, where you do and with who", what FB does now, are two totally different things and only corporate shill would use argumentation like that.

      Paying a penny (for a service) doesn't mean corporation owns, not only me, but everything I do or know.

  11. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Lizard tax...

    The rate has been set.

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