Meta Sues FTC, Demands Right to Profit From Kids’ Data

Meta Sues FTC, Demands Right to Profit From Kids' Data

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta Platforms Inc., arrives at federal court in San Jose, California, US, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company Meta has chaffed under a 2020 privacy settlement with the FTC, but the agency wants to keep the company from making any money from children’s data.
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

Meta is working all the angles it can to ensure it will still be able to profit from children’s Facebook data. After a recent loss in court, the company has now sued the Federal Trade Commission, arguing the agency doesn’t have the constitutional authority to change a 2020 $5 billion settlement over the company’s alleged lack of privacy protections.

The complaint, filed late Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calls out FTC chairperson Lina Khan and other commissioners for exceeding the inherent powers of their agency. Meta has simmered for more than six months over the FTC’s claims the company violated that original privacy agreement.

Back in May, the FTC claimed Meta violated a 2020 settlement agreement and proposed it should cut the company off from monetizing the data for users under 18 years old. Meta contested the FTC’s plans in court, but on Monday Washington D.C. federal Judge Timothy Kelly kicked Meta’s hopes for a new court ruling out the window. Kelly was the same judge who approved the original 2020 settlement.

Yet Meta has continued to claim the FTC’s attempts to enforce new privacy protections were “without merit.” The company has already appealed the court’s decision, but this new lawsuit puts the onus on the constitutionality of the FTC’s powers to take any major overarching enforcement action.

The tech giant argued that the FTC was overstepping its bounds and infringing on its property rights under the 2020 order. Meta complained that commissioners “exercise executive authority while being unconstitutionally insulated from removal by the president” and further whined that Congress has allowed the agency far more authority beyond the original Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, which first established the agency.

Meta needs to respond to the FTC’s demands by Dec. 11. The agency has routinely slapped Meta upside the head for allegedly breaking the terms of the settlement agreement multiple times. After Meta responds to the FTC, the agency could decide to ban the company from using any kind of facial recognition tech, as well as keep it from making cash off kids’ data.

But Meta claims it’s been a good little tech giant and has “accommodated the FTC for over a decade in connection with the FTC Proceeding that the FTC abruptly reopened.” The company claims it invested “billions of dollars” in implementing changes to its privacy policies required by the 2020 settlement. The company said the FTC’s new push to punish Meta is a “power grab.”

The FTC allegations came after Meta tried to draw more children into its grand Metaverse project Horizon Worlds. Some U.S. senators also complained about Meta’s attempts to draw youngsters into its big metaverse SNAFU. The new proposed order on Meta would force it to get approval from a third-party assessor to launch any new products, services, or features.

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