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Facebook’s $5 Billion Fine ‘Slap on the Wrist,’ GOP Senators Say

July 15, 2019, 11:47 PM

Facebook‘s $5 billion settlement to end a Federal Trade Commission privacy probe is drawing fire from a pair of Senate Republicans.

Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said the fine is too small a penalty for the social media giant. Their criticism signals that Facebook still faces bipartisan headwinds on Capitol Hill over its data privacy practices, despite the settlement.

“I think the fine is not big enough,” Hawley said, adding, “this is a slap on the wrist at best.”

The GOP-controlled agency approved the settlement on a party-line vote to end an investigation into the company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, people familiar with the matter have said. The Justice Department must approve the deal, which hasn’t been made public.

“A $5 billion fine is essentially a slap on the wrist for a company with a $500 billion dollar market cap,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn said lawmakers should “put guardrails in place for how these companies can handle and process your data. She plans to convene a Senate Judiciary tech task force on July 18 to discuss privacy legislation.

Blackburn has introduced a bill (S. 1116) that would force edge providers like Facebook, Alphabet Inc.'s Google and internet service providers like AT&T Inc. to get consumer consent before collecting, using, or sharing their data. The measure hasn’t advanced.

To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dstoller@bloomberglaw.com; Rebecca Kern in Washington at rkern@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com; Zachary Sherwood at zsherwood@bgov.com

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