Google might want to take a lesson from Facebook’s record $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) when it comes to protecting consumer data and privacy, lawmakers suggested on Tuesday.
During a hearing with Google’s vice president of global government affairs and public policy, Karan Bhatia, which was supposed to be focused on censorship and search engines at the company, multiple lawmakers took the time to lambast Facebook’s record-breaking settlement with the FTC.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn said the fine should have been $50 billion.
“In my opinion, [$5B] that’s not enough,” Blackburn said. “We all know they’ve been in violation of their privacy agreements.”
Blackburn added that – as Google faces its own Justice Department antitrust inquiry – the problems around big tech as an industry are just “mushrooming.”
“When we talk about privacy – or lack thereof – data security – lack thereof – offenders that are the biggest and the worst … unfortunately for you all, people put Google at the top of the list,” the Tennessee senator said.
Connecticut Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal said beyond the “abjectly inadequate” settlement amount – which is “barely a tap” on the wrist – his chief concern is the need for fundamental change at the company.
“The apparent lack of any structural behavior or leadership reform that will be required … I think it is more than a missed opportunity, it is a forsaken obligation if there is no radical order to restructure and change Facebook,” he said.
Blumenthal also said Google is in the midst of a “perfect storm” that will require a restructuring and repurposing of what it does, too.
As previously reported by FOX Business, the FTC approved a $5 billion settlement with Facebook to settle a probe into the company’s data privacy practices. The settlement is subject to review by the Department of Justice, but it is largely expected to be approved.
The FTC initiated the probe after it was revealed that Facebook allowed a third party firm – Cambridge Analytica – to access personal information of users. That information was then used to build political profiles without consent.