Jun 24, 2019

Ashkan Soltani Says FTC Exonerates Facebook in User Privacy Settlement

From Fast Company

How the FTC settlement could let Facebook off the hook

By Steven Melendez

Facebook has agreed to pay $5 billion and implement new practices to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a 2012 settlement on user privacy.

But some privacy experts, including the FTC’s two Democratic commissioners and former FTC chief technologist Ashkan Soltani, suggest the settlement goes too far by effectively exonerating Facebook and its executives for any other prior violation of the order.

The language of the agreement, as Soltani pointed out on Twitter, resolves “any and all claims that [Facebook], its officers, and directors, prior to June 12, 2019” violated the 2012 settlement. That’s unusual for such an agreement, writes FCC Commissioner Rohit Chopra in a dissenting opinion.

“In agreeing to this proposed settlement, the majority has opted to give Facebook a legal shield of unusual, if not unprecedented, breadth, covering a wide range of conduct not addressed in the proposed complaint or settlement,” he wrote. “This shield represents a major win for Facebook, but leaves the public in the dark as to how the company violated the law, and what violations if any are going unaddressed.”


Ashkan Soltani is an independent researcher, former FTC Chief Technologist, Pulitzer prize winner, and MIMS 2009 alumnus.

Last updated:

August 6, 2020