A Democrat Senator from Oregon announced Wednesday the introduction of a bill that would severely punish Facebook for privacy violations against its users, for which the company has been repeatedly slapped on the wrist by regulatory agencies.
“[Sen. Ron] Wyden’s ‘Mind Your Own Business Act’ is the official version of a draft bill he circulated around to other members and consumer groups late last year,” according to The Verge. “The legislation would empower the Federal Trade Commission with new authorities to fine tech companies that violate user privacy and bolster the agency with more resources to better regulate the industry in the future.”
As it stands, privacy issues have been handled on a case-by-case basis, usually through the FTC. But there is still no set standard for what punishments the Silicon Valley tech giants face when they are found to have violated the privacy of their users. Facebook has historically been one of the worst offenders.
Wyden publicly chastised Zuckerberg for failing to protect the privacy of Facebook’s users, from which it makes billions of dollars.
“Mark Zuckerberg won’t take Americans’ privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences,” Wyden reportedly said. “A slap on the wrist from the FTC won’t do the job.”
So, Wyden’s bill establishes some guidelines for how to handle future privacy violations.
“If approved, the bill would allow the FTC to establish minimum privacy and cybersecurity standards for tech platforms and give it the authority to issue fines of up to 4 percent of a company’s annual revenue for first-time offenses, similar to provisions in the GDPR,” The Verge said.
According to the report, state attorneys general, 50 of whom are currently looking into alleged antitrust violations on the part of Facebook, would also be able to take action against Facebook for violating users’ privacy. Wyden’s bill also includes a requirement that Facebook implement a “Do Not Track” option, which would force Facebook to ask users if they want to opt-in to have targeted advertisements directed at them. Right now, Facebook simply collects as much data as possible from its users and sells it to third parties, who then target users with ads.
“Consumers must be able to control their own private information, companies must provide vastly more transparency about how they use and share our data,” Wyden reportedly said. “Corporate executives need to be held personally responsible when they lie about protecting our personal information.”
Facebook is currently facing billions in fines after it collected biometric data, including facial scans, and tested facial recognition technology with that data, all without the consent of its users.
One month before that, the company was fined $5 billion, the largest fine in FTC history. The investigation began “following reports that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users without authorization and warned the tech giant violated its terms of agreement to notify users when their data is shared with third parties,” we reported.
“Facebook also agreed to pay $100 million to settle charges by the Security and Exchange Commission, the SEC announced Wednesday,” we reported. “According to the SEC, Facebook brazenly lied, describing data misuse as hypothetical when it was aware of real instances of its users’ data being illegally disseminated to third parties.”
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