The Electronic Privacy Information Center announced it has joined a coalition of groups urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC ) in a letter to break up Facebook as well as issue strong penalties against the social media giant.
The coalition also consists of the Open Market Institute,Electronic Privacy Information Center Color of Change, Common Sense Media, Constitutional Alliance, Government Accountability Project, Privacy Times Patient Privacy Rights and Stop Online Violence Against Women.
The letter argues the FTC should impose substantial fines, establish structural remedies, require compliance with Fair Information Practices, reform hiring and management practices, and restore democratic governance.
“The evidence is also clear that Facebook breached its commitments to the Commission regarding the protection of WhatsApp user data,” the letter said “As this occurred after the initial consent order, the FTC should require Facebook to unwind the acquisition of both WhatsApp and Instagram.”
In addition to establishing the two companies as independent entities, the groups argue Facebook should be required to disgorge the personal data unlawfully acquired from those firms.
The coalition argued that these actions are long overdue and that nearly ten years have passed since many of the initial organizations first brought Facebook’s “unfair and deceptive trade practices” to the commission’s attention, eight years since the commission first announced the settlement with Facebook, and nearly a year since the FTC said it was reopening the investigation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Last week, news broke that U.S. regulators have been discussing imposing a record-setting fine against Facebook for violating its legally binding agreement with the government to protect the privacy of its users’ personal data.
The fine would also mark the first major punishment levied against the company sense the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Dan Goldstein, president and owner of Page 1 Solutions said “Intervention by the federal government is the logical culmination of the controversy Facebook has been weathering for well over a year.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that Facebook couldn’t clean up its own house. But online privacy and security is a major political touch point today, so it’s no surprise that regulators are putting the company under a microscope,” Goldstein said. “Facebook claims that the Cambridge Analytica incident occurred because malicious actors exploited vulnerabilities within the social media site to access user data.”
Goldstein went on to say it will be interesting to see how the FTC views the breach in light of the agreement.
UPDATE: Mark Zuckerberg Friday Jan. 25 announced a plan to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.