Facebook operator Meta Platforms is facing legal challenges from the US trade regulator Federal Trade Commission (FTC). An independent auditor selected by Meta found numerous violations of data protection requirements at the group, prompting the FTC to reopen previous proceedings. The FTC is looking to impose stricter regulations on Meta, including a prohibition on the use of meta data of minors for commercial purposes, and restrictions on data protection, including the use of biometric data and the sharing of data with third parties. Meta has 30 days to respond to the draft decision.
The reopened FTC procedure stems from C-4365, in which Facebook subjected itself to a data protection regime in 2011 following a strict investigation by the regulator. However, there are concerns over whether the FTC can impose child protection requirements specifically under these proceedings.
A report commissioned by Meta from October 2020 to April 2021 found that there were numerous gaps and weaknesses, and that users had been misled, with Messenger Kids allowing children to add users to group chats without parental approval and non-public user data shared with third parties without user knowledge. The FTC is now looking to impose or tighten 17 regulations to prevent these problems in the future, including a ban on commercial exploitation of data harvested from minors and the right for minors to delete their data.
In response, Meta has accused the FTC of political manoeuvring and trying to usurp the US Congress’ authority to set industry-wide standards. The company has pledged to fight the new regulations and expects to win.