The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has reportedly approved a $5 billion settlement with Facebook to resolve the latter’s privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The FTC approved the settlement in a 3-to-2 vote with Republican commissioners in favor and Democrats opposing, according to Wall Street Journal sources. The arrangement and further details have yet to be confirmed publicly, and any agreement will still have to be reviewed by the Department of Justice.
The FTC began investigating Facebook in March last year following the emergence of the scandal. Analytica and Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan used a quiz app to collect data on Facebook users and their connected friends, the latter without their consent, enabling Analytica to build voter profiles for some 71 million Americans and a smaller amount of people overseas. The data harvesting was discovered in 2015, but only made public by Facebook in March 2018. This drew the scrutiny of governments in both the U.S. and the UK.
Some clients of Analytica included the 2016 Presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party during Mexico’s 2018 general election.
In fact, the FTC was concerned that various Facebook activities constituted violations of a 2011 agreement in which the company promised to improve its privacy standards. One of these was likely abuse of an Apple enterprise certificatefor “Facebook Research,” an app people were paid to install to monitor usage habits.