Facebook, like any big company, would rather avoid government regulation. But the revelation that it allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest the data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission means that calls for greater regulation may be at a tipping point.
The social network is currently facing investigations, probes, and hearings from authorities and lawmakers in the United States, the United Kingdom, the EU, and Canada. Here’s a rundown of all the pressure Facebook is up against:
The United States
- The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation that could result in a seriously hefty fine for Facebook. The FTC will be looking at whether the company had violated a consent decree it issued in 2011, which required Facebook to get users’ permission for their data to be used beyond what they agreed to in the social network’s privacy settings. Each violation could cost Facebook even $40,000.
- Several congressional committees have summoned Facebook representatives to explain the Cambridge Analytica mess. Instead of high-level executives, who have thus far been silent, two mid-level staffers are expected to speak to the House Judiciary Committee as early as Wednesday. A hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected later this week. Members of the Senate Commerce Committee issued a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, in which they ask the CEO to address a number of questions related to the breach and demand that Zuckerberg direct his staffers to brief the committee. Senator Amy Klobuchar, co-sponsor of the Honest Ads Act, which would require Facebook to be more transparent about its ad practices, called on Zuckerberg to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Senator Ron Wyden also sent a letter to Zuckerberg with some pointed questions, including several asking about Facebook’s compliance with FTC’s consent decree.
- Maura Healy, the Massachusetts attorney general, was quick to look into the case, announcing she was launching an investigation on Saturday. On Tuesday, New York attorney general Eric Scheiderman joined the probe.
The United Kingdom
- The country’s information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said her office has been investigating the exploitation of political user data for months, with the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica case being a part of that probe. Denham is pursuing a court warrant to access the data firm’s servers.
- The House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has requested that Zuckerberg appear before the lawmakers in a feisty letter that called the Cambridge Analytica mess a “catastrophic failure of process.”
- Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said on Twitter the body would investigate the misuse of Facebook data, “calling digital platforms to account.”
- Daniel Therrien, head of Canada’s privacy watchdog, said on Tuesday that he has launched an investigation to determine whether Facebook had violated the country’s federal private sector privacy law. Scott Brison, acting democratic institutions minister, asked Canada’s intelligence services to look into the case as well.