Further ReadingFTC fines Facebook $5 billion, imposes new privacy oversight
The agreement between Facebook and the FTC, as announced last week , includes a record-setting $5 billion fine and mandates changes to Facebook's reporting structure and oversight for privacy-related matters.
As with any other settlement, the consent decree between Facebook and the FTC is not final until after a judge approves. EPIC is specifically asking the court not to rubber-stamp it but instead to allow it and other privacy organizations to file briefs to the case and to schedule a hearing to review privacy-related issues.
EPIC requested a hearing where the court could review the fairness of the Facebook agreement and consider consumer groups’ complaints. If the court decides to grant such a hearing, a judge could require the trade commission to review outstanding consumer complaints and alter the terms of the proposed settlement.
The settlement is not "adequate, reasonable, or appropriate," EPIC said in its filing. "Its scope goes far beyond the dispute in question, extinguishing all 26,000 pending consumer complaints" made about Facebook prior to June 2019.
"The proposed settlement is clearly not in the public interest, as it leaves consumer complaints unaddressed while still failing to ensure consumer privacy on Facebook," the group continued. "This court has a mandate not to 'stand by and approve any consent decree placed before it' and 'is not obliged to accept one that appears to make a mockery of judicial power' like the consent decree proposed in this case."A collection of other advocacy groups, including Public Citizen, the Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen, the Center for Digital Democracy, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Color of Change, and Open Markets, all issued statements supporting the suit and expect to be involved with it going forward if the court allows.
"The public has a right to know what laws Facebook violated," said Color of Change Senior Campaign Director Brandi Collins-Dexter. Corporations should face consequences for violating the public trust, not be given a rubber stamp to carry out business as usual." EPIC and the groups joining it are far from alone in criticizing the settlement. Other groups, such as Consumer Reports and the EFF, called for Congress to pass some kind of legislation protecting consumer privacy going forward.