“The decision to impose documentation requirements, rather than bright line rules, represents a significant departure from how the government traditionally aims to protect the public. It is akin to if federal regulators, instead of ordering automakers to install seatbelts, ordered them to document the pros and cons of installing seatbelts, and to decide for themselves whether it would be worthwhile. This framework does not protect the public – it protects Facebook.”
— FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra in a strong dissent in the FTC Facebook settlement.
Some key takeaways:
- Breaking the law has to be riskier than following it.
- The settlement’s terms and conditions, including blanket immunity for Facebook executives and no real restraints on Facebook’s business model, do not fix the core problems that led to these violations.
- The settlement imposes no meaningful changes to the company’s structure or financial incentives, which led to these violations. Instead, it allows Facebook to evaluate for itself what level of user privacy is appropriate. It does not require actually respecting user privacy.