The US’s independent consumer trade agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has confirmed that it has launched an investigation into Facebook over its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal where the data of 50m users was exploited.
The non-public probe, which was first brought to light by Bloomberg last week, will see if Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 consent that the social network signed requiring it to be clear with users about how their data is being shared with third parties.
If found in breach of the signed consent, Facebook could face fines of up to $40,000 per violation per day – with the possibility of each user whose data was exploited being consider as individual violations.
“The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honour their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act,” said Tom Pahl, acting director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement.
“Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements. Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today (26 March), the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices.”