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Two senators call on FTC to hit Facebook with more than a big fine – CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the F8 Facebook Developers conference.

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Congress is getting impatient with a federal probe into Facebook's privacy policies.

On Monday, two senators called on the Federal Trade Commission to wrap up an investigation into the social network, which has been under the microscope for potentially having violated an earlier deal with the government about misusing its members' data. In a letter, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) called on the FTC to conclude its probe and "compel sweeping changes" to Facebook's privacy practices. The pair also asked the FTC to hold individual executives, which could include CEO Mark Zuckerberg, accountable.

The request comes amid mounting expectation the FTC and Facebook are negotiating a fine of as much as $5 billion, which would be the largest ever levied by the agency. In an earnings report last month, Facebook prepared investors for such a fine, saying it had already set aside funds to cover at least part of it.

A fine, regardless of its size, might not be enough to satisfy the two senators, who called on the FTC to target individual executives for punishment.

"Even a fine in the billions is simply a write-down for the company, and large penalties have done little to deter large tech firms," the senators wrote. "The FTC should impose tough accountability measures and penalties for individual executives and management responsible for violations of the consent order and for privacy failures." The consent order refers to a 2011 agreement Facebook struck with the government.

The FTC acknowledged receiving the letter. Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FTC investigation stems from Facebook's failure to control the data of as many as 87 million of its users. That info ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a UK political consultancy that has been accused of using the data to influence political campaigns, including the Brexit vote and the 2016 presidential campaign that led to the election of Donald Trump.

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