Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
FTC Civil Penalties on Companies Breaking Consumer Protection & Data Security Laws

FTC Seeks Authority to Impose Meaningful Civil Penalties on Companies Breaking Consumer Protection & Data Security Laws

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently appeared before the House subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection to request the power to impose meaningful civil penalties on companies that violate the nation’s data security and privacy protection laws. Currently, the FTC cannot impose fines on companies over privacy issues; however, if the public wants to see companies handle their sensitive information diligently, “the agency needs the ability to slap violators with fines and have more freedom to pass rules,” notes Law360.

This demand for increased punitive powers was triggered by the agency’s recent investigation of Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, to see whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree barring it from misrepresenting its privacy protections. The FTC advocated for Congress “to pass a new law granting it the power to hit companies in the purse to incentivize better data handling.”

“If the FTC was able to fine Facebook in 2011, we may not have seen the Cambridge Analytica scandal,” stated New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone.

The agency continues to refine and reshape its role when it comes to how best to handle future antitrust and consumer protection matters, which include large-scale violations privacy, improper access to big data, and enforcement actions against large technology platforms.

About the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Data Exposure

Political data firm Cambridge Analytica was easily able to harvest detailed private information from more than 50 million Facebook users’ profiles without the users’ knowledge or consent. Facebook was apparently aware of the breach for years, but failed to inform its users of it. Lawmakers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom have demanded that Facebook lift its veil of secrecy and explain to their respective governments and to the public how such a massive exposure of private user data could have occurred.

Lieff Cabraser has filed a class action lawsuit over the question of whether Facebook failed to employ reasonable security measures to prevent the taking of its users’ private information, and how that information was used by political data firm Cambridge Analytica. If you know or suspect that your private Facebook data was exposed to Cambridge Analytica, we urge you to contact data privacy lawyers at Lieff Cabraser today to discuss your rights and potential remedies for the violation of your privacy.

Lieff Cabraser’s Work in Digital Privacy & Data Security

Lieff Cabraser is committed to ensuring that the fundamental right to privacy is respected and endures even as technology evolves and society changes. Our attorneys possess extensive experience and the requisite technological background to successfully assert and litigate all manner of privacy claims. We represent individuals in precedent-setting cases impacting tens of millions of Americans against prominent technology, social media, and entertainment corporations for alleged violations of digital privacy rights and the failure to protect critically-sensitive data. Learn more about Digital Privacy and Data Security.