The US regulators have approved a record $ 5 billion (£ 4 billion) fine on Facebook to resolve an investigation into data privacy violations, according to US media reports.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been investigating allegations that political consultant Cambridge Analytica incorrectly obtained data on up to 87 million Facebook users.
The agreement was approved by the FTC in a vote of 3 to 2, the sources told the US media.
Facebook and the FTC told the BBC they had no comments on the reports.
How was the agreement reached?
The consumer protection agency, the FTC, began researching Facebook in March 2018 after reports that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the data of tens of millions of its users.
The investigation focused on whether Facebook had violated a 2011 agreement under which it was necessary to clearly notify users and obtain “express consent” to share their data.
The $ 5 billion fine was approved by the FTC in a 3-2 vote that broke party lines, with Republican commissioners in favor and opposing Democrats.
The New York Times reported that Democrats wanted stricter limits for the firm, while other Democrats have criticized the fine as inadequate.
“Given that the FTC can not or does not want to put reasonable rails to ensure the protection of privacy and user information, it is time for Congress to act,” said US Senator Mark Warner.
The fine has yet to be finalized by the civil division of the Justice Department, and it is unclear how long this will take, the sources said.
If confirmed, it would be the largest fine ever imposed by the FTC on a technology company.
However, the amount is in line with Facebook estimates, which earlier this year said they expected a fine of up to $ 5 billion.
Investors responded positively to the news, raising Facebook shares by 1.8%.
Facebook has been waiting for this
Analysis by Dave Lee, the North American BBC technology reporter in San Francisco
Facebook had been waiting for this. He told investors in April that they had put aside most of the money, which means that the firm will not feel much additional financial pressure for this fine.
What we still do not know is what additional measures can be placed in the company, such as greater privacy supervision, or if there will be any personal repercussions for the company’s executive director, Mark Zuckerberg.
The agreement, which amounts to about a quarter of the company’s annual profits, will rekindle criticism from those who say that this represents little more than a slap in the wrist.
What was the Cambridge Analytica scandal?
Cambridge Analytica was a British political consulting firm that had access to data from millions of users, some of which were allegedly used to psychologically profile US voters. UU
The data was acquired through a questionnaire, which invited users to discover their personality type.
As was common with applications and games at that time, it was designed to collect not only the user data of the person participating in the questionnaire, but also the data of their friends.
Facebook has said that it believes that the data of up to 87 million users were shared inappropriately with the consultant and disappeared.
The scandal caused several investigations around the world.
In October, Facebook was fined £ 500,000 by the UK’s data protection watchdog, which said the company had allowed a “serious breach” of the law to occur.
Canada’s data regulator earlier this year said Facebook had committed “serious infractions” of its privacy laws.