Meta Sues FTC Over Child Data Monetization Restrictions

Meta's logo is seen behind a judge's gavel.

Social media giant Meta is suing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over monetization of children’s data and to prevent regulators from reopening a 2020 privacy settlement, according to reports.

The legal maneuver from Meta, which is the parent company of apps like Facebook and Instagram, comes after a judge ruled the FTC could revise its 2020 settlement, Bloomberg reports. The prior settlement saw Meta agree to pay a landmark $5 billion fine, the largest for a privacy violation, the outlet added.

Now, the FTC says Meta has repeatedly violated the terms of the 2020 agreement as well as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by monetizing the data of younger users, according to Engadget.

“Facebook has repeatedly violated its privacy promises,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement from May. “The company’s recklessness has put young users at risk, and Facebook needs to answer for its failures.”

In that statement, the FTC claimed Meta not only failed to comply with the 2020 settlement but also “misled parents about their ability to control with whom their children communicated through its Messenger Kids app and misrepresented the access it provided some app developers to private user data.”

The organization then laid out proposed changes to the three-year-old agreement, including prohibiting the company from the profiting off the data it collects on users under 18, providing additional protections, and imposing limitations on things like facial recognition.

This brings Meta to Monday’s ruling, where U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled the FTC could move forward with a revision to the 2020 privacy settlement, adding that the federal court didn’t have jurisdiction over that agreement, Bloomberg reports. This brings the FTC closer to making those proposed limitations a reality.

In turn, Meta issued a suit against the FTC, demanding an immediate stop to the federal organization’s proceedings, according to Bloomberg. The company is also reported appealing Judge Kelly’s ruling.

“The FTC’s unilateral attempt to rewrite our privacy settlement agreement raises serious and important issues,” Meta spokesperson Christopher Sgro told the publication. “The FTC shouldn’t be the prosecutor, judge, and jury in the same case.”

Considering all the legal moves made just this week, things aren’t likely to find resolution soon.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.