Zach Gibson/Getty Images
show image

The FTC may force Facebook to set up an independent privacy committee

Facebook could be forced to set up a privacy oversight committee as part of its settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it has emerged.

Under the terms of the deal, the embattled social media giant would also be compelled to appoint a “federally approved privacy official” to a senior position, a source told the US news site Politico.

The leak comes just days after it was revealed that Facebook had set aside as much as $5bn to cover the cost of the FTC’s fine. The penalties Facebook faces in Europe are smaller than in the US as the General Data Protection Regulation had not come into force when the Cambridge Analytica breach occurred.

But while the UK’s data protection watchdog fined the company only £500,000 last year, Facebook has submitted an appeal. The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham last month called on the company to drop the appeal to prove it was taking privacy more seriously.

In a column published by the Washington Post, Mark Zuckerberg said a new common global privacy framework should “build on the protections GDPR provides”. He added that the privacy regulation could “establish a way to hold companies such as Facebook accountable by imposing sanctions when we make mistakes”.

In light of the intervention, the UK’s data protection watchdog, Elizabeth Denham, said she expected “Facebook to review their current appeal against the Information Commissioner’s Office’s £500,000 fine – the maximum available under the old rules – for contravening UK privacy laws”.  Facebook is yet to do so.