Cambridge Analytica: FTC to fine Facebook $5bn

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a record $5 billion settlement with Facebook following an investigation into allegations of data privacy violations. 

The fine follows after an investigation opened into Facebook’s data practices March 2018, once news broke about the political consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly accessing the data of tens of millions of Facebook users. 

The UK-based firm had created an app that linked with Facebook which would acquire personal information about users through a personality quiz. The quiz had been designed to harvest users’ data to create political advertising material with which account holders were targeted in the run up to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

Additionally the app gained information from both consenting users and from all those users’ friends, without their consent or knowledge. 

The investigation centred on whether Facebook had violated a 2011 consent decree, under which Facebook are required to explicitly notify users and gain “express consent” to share their data.

The record $5 billion fine is the largest ever imposed by the FTC, although critics have argued that the fine will hardly impact the tech giant. 

“This isn’t a fine, it’s a favor to Facebook, a parking ticket which will clear them to conduct more illegal and invasive surveillance,” said Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute who specializes in monopoly power. 

“We don’t think a fine matters. We need a structural solution here”.  

David Cicilline, the Democratic congressmen who chairs the House subcommittee on antitrust issues tweeted: 

“It’s very disappointing that such an enormously powerful company that engaged in such serious misconduct is getting a slap on the wrist. 

“This fine is a fraction of Facebook’s annual revenue. It won’t make them think twice about their responsibility to protect user data. If the FTC won’t protect consumers, Congress surely must.”

Facebook and the FTC have yet to comment.

Netflix have released a trailer for a new documentary investigating the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

The Great Hack will delve into the world of data exploitation, and how Cambridge Analytica had scraped the data of 87 million users. 

The documentary follows Carole Cadwalladr, the Guardian journalist who had first broke the story about the scandal, and David Carroll, a professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, who had attempted to sue Cambridge Analytica to find out the information they held on him. 

David Carroll will be discussing his personal experience and the making of the Great Hack at PrivSec New York, a two-day conference exploring the current and future landscape of privacy and security, 

David joins a roster of leading experts representing organisations including Uber, NY Times, BNY Mellon, Bank of England, Raytheon and many more. 

The event, which has been run over 20 times in Europe and seen over 10,000 professionals attend, is designed to prepare those who are responsible for ensuring their organisations are operating compliantly, and have their privacy and security processes up to date.  

No one wants to be the next Marriott, the next Facebook, the next British Airways when it comes to privacy and security scandals. 

Ensure your organisations future is secure and book your place today for the flash sale price of just $500.


PrivSec Conferences will bring together leading speakers and experts from privacy and security to deliver compelling content via solo presentations, panel discussions, debates, roundtables and workshops.

For more information on upcoming events, visit the website.

We have been awarded the number 1 GDPR Blog in 2019 by Feedspot.