Regulators May Go After Zuckerberg Personally

Facebook and FTC discuss new oversight of CEO
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2019 3:08 PM CDT
Regulators Want to Hold Zuckerberg Responsible for Breaches
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies on Capitol Hill last year.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Federal regulators are considering ways to hold Mark Zuckerberg responsible for Facebook's handling of its users' personal information. Possible new oversight of the CEO has been discussed by FTC officials and Facebook as part of the government's investigation into how the networking site uses the data, the Washington Post reports. So far, the government has kept its gloves off Zuckerberg personally when looking into Facebook. The current investigation began more than a year ago after the revelation that Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed 87 million users' data, despite Facebook's agreement with the FTC in 2011 that it would tighten its privacy practices. More breakdowns have surfaced since then, including one this week involving passwords for Instagram, which Facebook owns.

Such an effort would be a big change for the company, and for the regulators. Justin Brookman, a former policy director for the FTC, said that when it comes to naming individual leaders, regulators "typically only use that authority in fraud-like cases," when those leaders knew about and controlled the wrongdoing, per NBC. Some in Washington think that was the case with Facebook, the Post points out, and penalties for its CEO might be merited. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Zuckerberg "wasn’t just aware of Facebook’s invasion of consumer privacy, he signed off on it and publicly downplayed legitimate concerns." David Vladeck, a past head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said this week that Facebook "did not take that first consent decree seriously," adding: "I would hope any future order names Zuckerberg" because that step "ratchets pressure up on the company to make the CEO responsible." (More Facebook privacy stories.)

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