FTC cites Consumer Reports investigation into Facebook’s facial recognition tools
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission today formally announced the details of its record $5 billion penalty for Facebook and restrictions to be imposed on the company in order to settle FTC charges that it violated a 2012 FTC order by deceiving users about their ability to control the privacy of their personal information.
Consumer Reports welcomed the action from the FTC after a year-long investigation, but said it is clear that Congress needs to give the FTC greater authority and resources to rein in companies like Facebook.
Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports said, “As expected, the size of the settlement is historic, but these attempts to hold Facebook accountable are not enough to make a real difference. With a weak and under-resourced FTC, and a glaring need for far more comprehensive privacy laws, Congress must raise the standards for consumers and hold Big Tech accountable. Lawmakers have a responsibility to pass laws that offer real protections, giving consumers control of their data and the FTC the power it needs to rein in Big Tech.”
Tellado added, “The details of this settlement make it brutally clear that this isn’t just about Facebook’s privacy policies. Facebook made a concerted effort to control and manipulate consumer choices, by misrepresenting how they do business, and how they treat their users.”
In today’s announcement, the FTC cites the Consumer Reports investigation that found Facebook misrepresented steps that certain consumers needed to take to control facial recognition technology. This privacy violation is one of several cited by the FTC in its statement about the settlement and restrictions for the company.
Justin Brookman, Director, Consumer Privacy and Technology Policy, for Consumer Reports, previously served as Policy Director of the FTC’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation.
Brookman said, “This settlement doesn’t place any new restrictions on how Facebook can collect or use data going forward. Layers of privacy bureaucracy aren’t going to matter if the law doesn’t require Facebook to change. Americans deserve long-overdue privacy protections to ensure that companies like Facebook treat our data fairly.”
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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For more than 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.