The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly approved a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook this week over its investigation in the Cambridge Analytica privacy violations, the US media reported.

Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The probe has focused on whether the data sharing violated a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the regulator.

The FTC has been investigating allegations against Facebook Facebook inappropriately shared information with Cambridge Analytica — a British political consulting firm, now out of operation.

The investigation largely focused on the violation of the 2011 data sharing agreement between Facebook and the regulator, which required the social media company to clearly notify users and gain “express consent” to share their data.

It has been alleged that personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users was shared with the consulting firm, amounting to a violation of the agreement.

The $5bn fine was voted by the FTC in a 3-2 vote with Republican commissioners in favour, while Democrats opposing the penalty.

The fine, however, still needs to be reviewed by the Justice Department’s civil division. But it is not clear how long it may take. If approved, it would be the biggest fine ever imposed by the FTC on a tech company.

Facing public outcry and strict scrutiny by regulators, Facebook in April said it had already anticipated a penalty of 3-5 billion dollars from the FTC.

“We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3 billion to $5 billion,” Facebook had said.

As part of its settlement with the FTC, the social media giant has also been asked to “strengthen its privacy practices”.

Cambridge Analytica had access to the data of millions of users, some of which was allegedly used to psychologically profile US voters and target them with material to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

In October last year, the social media company was fined £500,000 by the UK’s data protection regulator, which had said that the company allowed a “serious breach” of law to happen.

(inputs from IANS, BBC)


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