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Meta’s not getting out of an FTC review that easily

Meta’s not getting out of an FTC review that easily

Meta is not getting out of its latest battle with U.S. regulators trying to wall off children from biometric and biographic data monetization, at least any time soon.

Company lawyers this week lost their bid (case 1:19-cv-02184) in the U.S. appellate court for the District of Columbia to prevent the Federal Trade Commission from re-opening a previous data privacy ruling in 2020 against Meta.

That decision imposed a $5 billion fine for policies putting children’s privacy at risk. Meta also had to create policies and procedures to rectify flawed data privacy rules.

The FTC maintains it is constitutional for it to change the settlement between the two in order to stiffen the rules that were to protect children’s facial recognition data from corporate monetization.

One settlement does not obviate future actions if a future legal remedy is needed and can be defended in court. Meta disagrees.

The three-judge appeals panel this week said it heard no convincing argument that Meta would suffer “certain and great” harm by letting the government make its case for stronger biometric data protection in court again.

If nothing else, the judges said, any resulting decision of the new case will be open to appeal.

If Meta can brush the FTC back this time, according to the court, the company will only have suffered “expense and annoyance,” neither of which meet the criteria for irreparable damage required for a successful appeal at this point.

The constitutionality of what the FTC wants to do, of course, is far from the central issue. Executives of Meta don’t want more government interference in its products and operations.

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