Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would likely be behind bars if a law proposed by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden had been in place during the company’s highly-publicized Cambridge Analytica scandal last year, which revealed that millions of Facebook users’ data had been used by a private company without users’ permission.
According to a report Thursday from CNET, the bill proposed by the Democratic legislator, which focuses on data privacy, would create the potential for jail time for CEOs, like Zuckerberg, found to have violated consumer privacy protection law.
As CNET noted, Facebook faced a fine of $5 billion over its data privacy violations earlier in July. While it was the highest fine ever imposed on a technology company by the U.S. government, many still viewed the fine as a slap on the wrist. A smaller fine of $170 million had been levied against Google-owned YouTube for violating the privacy of child users.
According to WIRED, Facebook faced the $5 billion fine following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which came to light in 2018 and saw a firm that worked on President Trump’s 2016 election campaign had improperly used data from Facebook to target users without their permission. Although the action was eventually exposed by The Guardian, Facebook later admitted they had known about CA’s improper use of its user data prior to the expose.
“Mark Zuckerberg won’t take Americans’ privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences,” Wyden said. “A slap on the wrist from the FTC won’t do the job, so under my bill he’d face jail time for lying to the government.”
The act, named the Mind Your Business Act, is an update to Wyden’s previously-released Consumer Data Protection Act. It would allow for state attorneys general throughout the United States to enforce the regulations and allow for privacy watchdogs to take up lawsuits on behalf of individuals who were impacted by data breaches and violations under the law. In addition to potential jail tame on its CEOs, the proposed law would also create tax penalties on the corporations when the companies are found to have lied about their privacy practices. The tax penalties would be derived from how much a CEO of a company earns, CNET said.
The tech industry has been a great subject of debate among politicians in Washington and especially among the Democratic presidential hopefuls. At the fourth debate, candidates sparred over plans to either break up or further regulate the technology sector. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called for the breaking up of large technology companies, like Facebook. Sen. Kamala Harris reaffirmed her position that she believed Twitter should ban the president from using its service.
According to a previous report from The Inquisitr, the Facebook founder and CEO has reportedly been holding secretive meetings with conservatives in order to gain favor with President Donald Trump.
According to The Inquisitr report, Zuckerberg has been meeting with conservative pundits, journalists, and at least one Republican lawmaker in what on the surface is to discuss potential partnerships. However, the meetings are reportedly meant as an effort to avoid scrutiny from the Department of Justice and to appease the president and conservatives who have leveled claims against social media companies, claiming the sites have an anti-conservative bias.
On the flip side, Facebook has recently taken heat following a decision to allow the president to run an advertisement on its platform for his re-election campaign, which contains reportedly unfounded claims against former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his 2020 Democratic rivals.