Court rules that Meta cannot stop the US FTC from resuming its privacy investigation

Court rules that Meta cannot stop the US FTC from resuming its privacy investigation
FILE PHOTO: People walk behind a Meta Platforms logo during a conference in Mumbai, India, September 20, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

A U.S. court decided on Friday that Meta Platforms (META.O), which opened a new tab, could not stop the Federal Trade Commission from reviving an investigation into purported privacy violations by its Facebook unit while the company is pursuing a lawsuit contesting the agency’s jurisdiction.

In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, situated in Washington, D.C., concluded that Meta had failed to provide evidence that its challenge was likely to succeed. In its ruling, the court stated that Meta had “not met its heavy burden of showing entitlement to an injunction pending appeal.”

On March 12, the same appeals court panel rejected a different request from Meta in a related case to halt the FTC’s investigation, which was made public last year. Meta objected, arguing that company had previously paid a $5 billion fine and consented to a number of protections.

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The FTC seeks to strengthen a 2020 Facebook privacy settlement that forbids making money off of the data of children and increases restrictions on facial recognition technology. The organization has charged Meta with deceiving parents about kid protection measures.

In November, Meta, which has refuted claims that it misled parents about privacy dangers, filed a lawsuit against the FTC, challenging the agency’s constitutional jurisdiction to function as both an investigative and an adjudicatory body.

Among other things, Meta stated that it would be violating its right to a jury trial if the FTC action proceeded.
Meta and the FTC refrained from commenting right away.

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The D.C. Circuit ruling on Friday dealt with Meta’s appeal of a March 15 ruling by U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss in Washington, D.C., that refused to put an end to the agency’s investigation.

In his ruling, Moss stated that Meta had failed to outweigh the public interest, which was “strong,” in having the FTC examine Meta’s privacy protections.

In a second antitrust action filed in Washington, the FTC charged Meta of exploiting its dominance in the social network industry to acquire or destroy competitors.

The agency’s allegations have been refuted by Meta, which may compel the corporation to sell its WhatsApp chat and Instagram photo-sharing service.

By David Shepardson with reporting By Marguerita Choy, editor

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