Online privacy

FTC's Facebook fine draws fire

A man walks by reporters and TV cameras
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

News that the Federal Trade Commission has approved a roughly $5 billion fine against Facebook for privacy violations prompted instant outcry from some critics and lawmakers.

Why it matters: The FTC decision could have consequences for Facebook's billions of users — and frame the next stage of a global debate over how to regulate consumer privacy. A consensus that the settlement is weak would provide more ammo for proponents of new privacy laws — whereas an assessment that the penalties are serious would strengthen the hands of those who oppose new regulation.

Hacking the vulnerabilities in privacy laws

Photo: Valery Brozhinsky/Getty Images

A researcher has demonstrated how to exploit Europe's privacy protection laws to violate other people's privacy — and new privacy rules on the way in the U.S. could be vulnerable in the same way.

The state of play: Privacy laws, including Europe's mammoth General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California's recently passed regulations, often include provisions to allow people to request the personal information that companies have compiled on them.