In brief: Amid its negotiations with Facebook over privacy violations, the Federal Trade Commission has proffered up the idea of creating new positions within the company that focus on privacy-related issues.
It is unclear if this deal will be in addition to the hefty fines previously projected, or if it will be in lieu of or lessen those penalties. Nothing is set in stone until the FTC concludes talks and announces its decision.
According to Politico, Facebook is willing to establish a privacy oversight committee if allowed. The committee could include board members and see Mark Zuckerberg assigned as the “designated compliance officer.” His primary responsibility would be ensuring that user data remain private.
The proposed committee would meet quarterly to review and assess Facebook’s privacy practices. There would also be an “external assessor” to be sure there is no cheating. This position would be filled by a party outside of the firm that both Facebook and the FTC agree upon.
"It’s a joke. The FTC’s budget should be cut to match the scale of its sloth."
Some critics say the proposal is an empty gesture that will not guarantee that the social media giant complies with privacy directives.
“It’s a joke,” said Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute. “The FTC’s budget should be cut to match the scale of its sloth.”
Stoller’s group along with other watchdogs requested the FTC force significant structural changes within the company including liberating WhatsApp and Instagram from the Facebook umbrella.
Facebook's legal team believes the privacy advocates are overzealous and that record-breaking fines and the proposed overwatch should be enough.
“Despite a potentially record-setting fine against Facebook, for anti-tech activists, nothing short of a total business shutdown or break-up seems to be enough,” NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo told The Verge. “This is not a slam dunk case for the FTC, and if the FTC tries to go beyond just a [financial penalty], they will lose in court.”
The FTC has not indicated a time frame for the end of its negotiations with Zuckerberg and company.
Masthead Image via Wall Street Journal