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FTC may revisit Meta privacy lawsuit despite $5 billion punishment, court says

People walk past Meta Platforms logo at a conference in Mumbai, India, September 20, 2023.

March 13 (mod1s) - Meta (META.O), opens new tab cannot block the U.S. Federal Trade Commission from resuming an inquiry into its Facebook unit's privacy practices for now, a U.S. appeals court decided, despite Meta's complaints that it had paid a $5 billion fine and committed to a variety of measures. 

The FTC wants to strengthen an existing 2020 Facebook privacy deal to restrict profiting from children' data and increase limitations on face recognition technology. The FDA has accused Meta of deceiving parents about safeguards for children. 

The judgment, opens new tab late on Tuesday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was a blow for Meta, which had requested the court to freeze the FTC case while it pursues a separate action challenging the FTC's probe on constitutional grounds. 

The appeals court noted the FTC's claimed privacy concerns "implicate important public interests" and that Meta would have a chance to dispute any final decision by the agency.

Meta in a statement said the court's ruling "does not address the substance of the FTC's allegations, which are without merit." 

The FTC on Wednesday refused to comment. 

Meta, which owns WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, has objected that the FTC cannot "unilaterally rewrite" the earlier settlement conditions, which a U.S. court authorized in 2020. 

Meta claimed the FTC's proposed amendments will “curtail Meta’s development of new products, superintend Meta’s corporate governance, and impair Meta’s ability to serve its users and advertisers.”

The FTC replied that the settlement, which imposed additional compliance and supervision standards, was not meant to resolve "all claims in perpetuity." 

Meta and other social media firms are individually facing hundreds of U.S. lawsuits accusing them of hooking adolescents to their sites. 

The FTC is also suing Meta for allegedly monopolizing the personal social network industry. Meta has disputed the charges.


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