Top Dem calls on FTC to hold Zuckerberg accountable in Facebook probe

Top Dem calls on FTC to hold Zuckerberg accountable in Facebook probe
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Facebook won't remove doctored Pelosi video | Trump denies knowledge of fake Pelosi videos | Controversy over new Assange charges | House Democrats seek bipartisan group on net neutrality Manning: Additional Assange charges are feds using the law 'as a sword' Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access MORE (D-Ore.) in a Tuesday letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called on the agency to hold Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Facebook won't remove doctored Pelosi video | Trump denies knowledge of fake Pelosi videos | Controversy over new Assange charges | House Democrats seek bipartisan group on net neutrality On The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Zuckerberg met with Winklevoss twins about Facebook developing cryptocurrency: report MORE personally liable for his company's alleged mishandling of user data.

Wyden sent the letter to the FTC commissioners days after The Washington Post reported that the agency is looking into Zuckerberg's past statements as part of its probe into whether Facebook misled users about what it does with their data.  

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"I write to urge the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that any consent order negotiated with Facebook concerning his company’s unfair and deceptive practices and its mishandling of users’ data holds Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), individually liable for the company’s repeated violations of American’s privacy," Wyden wrote in the letter, first reported by the Post. 

Facebook in 2012 reached a consent decree with the FTC over charges that it had deceived users into thinking that their information was private when it was not. Under that decree, Facebook is barred from “making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers' personal information.” 

The FTC is reportedly considering a multibillion-dollar fine against Facebook for violating that consent decree.

And according to the Post, the agency might seek greater oversight of Zuckerberg's leadership as part of the settlement to end the probe. 

"Any settlement with Facebook must hold Mr. Zuckerberg individually accountable or his flagrant, repeated violations of Americans’ privacy will continue," Wyden wrote in the letter, noting that the FTC has the authority to hold individuals responsible for a corporation's actions "where the individual participated directly in the deceptive practices or acts or had authority to control them." 

Wyden raised concerns that Zuckerberg is not only Facebook's CEO, but also controls a majority of the voting rights in the company, which could "insulate ... him from accountability to Facebook’s board and shareholders." 

Another key Democratic lawmaker and tech critic, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), in a statement last week called for the FTC to hold Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives "personally at fault and liable for further wrongdoing."  

Blumenthal argued that it could set an example for other business leaders on privacy issues.