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U.S. senators criticize FTC's reported Facebook settlement

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By Reuters
U.S. senators criticize FTC's reported Facebook settlement
FILE PHOTO: Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo   -   Copyright  Stephen Lam(Reuters)
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three U.S. senators who have been frequent critics of U.S. tech giants wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday to criticize its reported settlement with Facebook Inc <FB.O>.

U.S. Senators Edward Markey, Richard Blumenthal, who are Democrats, and Josh Hawley, a Republican, told the agency that a $5 billion settlement, which was reported on Friday, “is woefully inadequate.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters and others reported last week that the FTC had voted to approve a roughly $5 billion (£4.02 billion) settlement with Facebook over its investigation into the social media company’s handling of user data. The Wall Street Journal had been first to report the deal.

The FTC has been investigating allegations Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The probe has focused on whether the data sharing violated a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the regulator.

In their letter, the three senators called the proposed settlement “woefully inadequate.”

“We are concerned that the FTC has failed to impose strict structural reforms and managerial accountability that would put an end to Facebook’s privacy violations,” the lawmakers wrote.

In particular, the senators pressed the FTC on how the penalty was determined, whether founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed as part of the probe, whether Zuckerberg or other executives were named in the new proposed settlement and whether new restrictions on data collection were agreed to.

Facebook’s revenue for the first quarter of this year was $15.1 billion while its net income was $2.43 billion. It would have been higher, but Facebook set aside $3 billion for the FTC penalty.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Susan Thomas)

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