Groups urge FTC to break up Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Groups urge FTC to break up Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Advocacy groups on Thursday urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to order a breakup of Facebook after the agency concludes its investigation into the company’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, wrote in a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons that modest enforcement actions would not be adequate to curb Facebook’s privacy practices.

“Given that Facebook’s violations are so numerous in scale, severe in nature, impactful for such a large portion of the American public and central to the company’s business model, and given the company’s massive size and influence over American consumers, penalties and remedies that go far beyond the Commission’s recent actions are called for,” the groups wrote.

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They urged the FTC to require Facebook to divest from subsidiaries like WhatsApp and Instagram and to impose a fine of at least $2 billion on the social media giant. The agency is probing whether Facebook violated a consent agreement the two sides reached in 2011 that required the company not to misrepresent its privacy practices.

Among those signing onto the letter were the Open Markets Institute, the civil rights group Color of Change and Common Sense Media.

The FTC, which has been operating in a limited capacity due to the partial government shutdown, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment.

The agency is reportedly exploring a record-setting fine for Facebook as a result of the investigation it announced in March, The Washington Post reported earlier this month.

There’s been little indication that the agency would consider breaking up Facebook — a remedy used primarily in antitrust cases — over a privacy matter.