Facebook’s reported $5 billion settlement with the FTC isn’t even official yet, but that isn’t stopping politicians from bristling at it. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Josh Hawley and Ed Markey have sent a letter to the FTC requesting answers about the rumored settlement, expressing worries that the penalty would be “woefully inadequate” given privacy violations like the Cambridge Analytica affair. The questions cover not just the rationale behind the supposed deal, but the evidence gathering methods and punishments beyond the fine.
“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,” the Senators write. “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.”
The congressmen requested that the FTC be forthcoming with answers to several questions. For one, they would like to know how the Commission calculated the amount of the penalty and if it determined how much revenue Facebook generated directly from its privacy violations.
The Commission is expected to respond by August 6th.
It’s not certain how the FTC will take to the letter, especially when the settlement hasn’t been confirmed. If it’s real, though, the senators’ letter makes clear that both the FTC and Facebook are in for a fight. Facebook has been dogged by privacy scandals for well over a year it’s doubtful that critics will let get by with anything less than a particularly stiff punishment.