Facebook to Appoint New Privacy Oversight Roles in Deal with FTC

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With Facebook facing a significant fine from the FTC over its repeated data breaches and user privacy concerns, The Social Network is now reportedly looking to add in new privacy oversight officers to better secure its systems.

As per The New York Times:

“Facebook has agreed to create a privacy committee to protect its users’ data, as well as an external assessor who would be appointed by the company and FTC, said the people, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The social network will also appoint a head compliance officer to oversee privacy efforts, one of the people said.”

In its most recent earnings report, the company noted that it had set aside $5 billion to cover a potential FTC fine stemming from an investigation into its data privacy violations. This new agreement is part of the same, ongoing examination of Facebook’s practices, and would help to ensure that the company doesn’t face expanded compliance regulations, while also providing some level of additional transparency over its processes.

How effective that would be in stopping the same from happening again is hard to say – you’d assume, at least for the most part, that Facebook would have learned its lessons about user data sharing and wouldn’t put such at risk of unauthorized access again. But questions do remain after a year of various controversies and breaches – and with Facebook holding personal insights on some 2.38 billion people, as we’ve seen, its potential influence can be massive.

Given this, the appointments would make sense. It depends on how, exactly, Facebook enacts them, and how the processes are structured, but it should provide some assistance in managing data usage.

Breaches and hacks are a different thing altogether, and the way in which Facebook uses its data for ad targeting is another element. Whether those would come under more scrutiny is hard to say – you’d expect they would, but again, it comes down to what Facebook’s willing to do, how much oversight it shares, and what actions stem from this. 

Essentially, Facebook needs to do more to ensure people’s data is not misused, but given so much personal insights have already leaked, the effectiveness of any measure will be questionable. Even if Facebook were to stop all such future breaches, which is the best it can now do, the existence of past leaked data and databases still poses a concern. That doesn’t mean Facebook should just give up, but it may make it increasingly difficult to appoint blame for future breaches, even with these new positions in place, because a heap of information is already circulating on digital black markets. 

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