FTC negotiating over multibillion-dollar fine for Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly pushing for a record multibillion-dollar fine against Facebook over privacy violations following an investigation into the company’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed on Thursday that the two sides had begun negotiations to settle the investigation. If Facebook rejects a proposed settlement with such a large fine, the parties could be headed towards a costly court fight.

A fine of more than a billion dollars would be unprecedented for the agency. The largest penalty it has imposed on a tech company was a $22.5 million settlement with Google in 2012.

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An FTC spokesman declined to comment.

The agency opened the investigation last March after it was revealed that the political consulting group Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained data on as many as 87 million Facebook users.

The FTC said it would be looking into whether Facebook violated a 2011 settlement with the agency over previous privacy charges that required the social network to be more transparent with its users about data practices.

Facebook, which declined to comment, has said that it did not violate the agreement.

Updated 6:00 p.m.