The FTC vs Meta situation continues to escalate after the Federal Trade Commission accused Facebook of misleading parents about its children’s data privacy.
According to recent reports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a new action to prevent Meta (formerly Facebook) from monetizing youth data entirely in an attempt to prevent the company from profiting from minor data.
The FTC Facebook ban update brings the trade commission’s new decree stipulating that Meta will be banned from collecting data from all users under 18 years of age, unless for security purposes, and from monetizing it until the users become adults.
The FTC claims that Meta violated the terms of its 2020 privacy order, necessitating Meta’s implementation of several stringent controls over data usage due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
FTC Facebook ban update: Facebook misleading parents
The FTC alleges that Meta misrepresented parents’ controls over who their kids communicate with via Messenger Kids and has continued to grant app developers access to user’s private information.
The FTC proposes that Meta should be prohibited from profiting from any data collected, including through its VR products, from users under 18. Meta would also be subjected to expanded limitations in areas such as facial recognition technology.
Additionally, Meta would be required to pause the launch of all new products and services pending an independent assessment of its compliance with these terms.
FTC Facebook ban update: Meta responds
In its response, Meta disputes all of the FTC’s claims and vows to ‘vigorously fight’ the action, stating that the FTC’s latest complaint against Meta is a political stunt.
“The FTC does not have the authority to unilaterally impose ‘do-overs’ on court-approved, negotiated settlements. Even one of the agency’s Democratic Commissioners expressed doubt about whether the FTC has the authority to take the action it proposed today,” read Meta’s response to FTC.
“To justify imposing brand new obligations that have no basis in the agreement or the alleged violations, the FTC is relying on years-old incidents that we fully disclosed and fixed ourselves — in some instances, even before the order was originally finalized.”
The company further stated that since 2019, they have overhauled their approach to privacy and have invested over “$5 billion in privacy program that protects people’s privacy” by identifying privacy risks early and embedding privacy into their products from the start.
Meta has faced several restrictions on its ad targeting tools due to changes in data usage regulations and Apple’s iOS 14 update.
It remains to be seen what the full impact will be on the company long-term, but the FTC would need a clear legal basis to push things to the next stage.
FTC Facebook ban update: Conclusion
The FTC’s proposed new order seeks to limit Meta’s use of children’s and teenagers’ data, prohibiting the company from using it commercially or monetizing it in any way.
The proposed provisions include a pause on releasing new products and services until written confirmation from an independent assessor and increased employee training to avoid any further Facebook privacy violations in the future.
The director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Samuel Levine, stated that Meta’s “recklessness” had put young users at risk and that the company needed to be held accountable for its failures.
The regulatory scrutiny on tech giants continues to intensify. It remains to be seen how Meta will respond to these proposed restrictions and what the future holds for the company.
However, the FTC’s latest action against Meta shows that the authorities are taking young people’s privacy and safety very seriously and are willing to take strong measures against companies that violate these principles.