Facebook’s “privacy cop” is doomed to fail

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Facebook’s “privacy cop” is doomed to fail

The Federal Trade Commission issued its largest-ever fine, of US$5 billion, to Facebook for violating a 2011 privacy settlement in late July. But the amount is only about a month’s worth of the company’s revenue, suggesting that the fine, while seeming large, is, in fact, rather modest.

More significantly, Facebook is required to have an “outside assessor” – a sort of privacy cop – to monitor the company’s handling of user data, along with following a few other corporate procedural requirements. That assessor could address the fundamental problems with the way Facebook operates – but as a scholar of technology companies’ business practices, I’m worried that this potentially all-important role is set up for failure.
 
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