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US slaps $5 billion fine, curbs on Facebook in privacy probe

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US regulators on Wednesday slapped a record $5 billion fine on Facebook for privacy violations in a settlement requiring the world’s biggest social network to “submit to new restrictions and a modified corporate structure.”

The Federal Trade Commission said the penalty was the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the US government for any violation.

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“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said.

“The magnitude of the $5 billion penalty and sweeping conduct relief are unprecedented in the history of the FTC. The relief is designed not only to punish future violations but, more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations.”

The agreement establishes an independent privacy committee within Facebook’s board of directors, “removing unfettered control by Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg over decisions affecting user privacy,” the FTC statement said.

Two commissioners of the five-member FTC dissented in the settlement, saying the penalty was insufficient.

“The proposed settlement does little to change the business model or practices that led to the recidivism,” FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra said.

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“The settlement imposes no meaningful changes to the company’s structure or financial incentives, which led to these violations. Nor does it include any restrictions on the company’s mass surveillance or advertising tactics.”

Facebook lawyer Colin Stretch said the agreement “will require a fundamental shift in the way we approach our work and it will place additional responsibility on people building our products at every level of the company.”

In a separate agreement with stock market regulators, Facebook agreed to pay a $100 million penalty for making “misleading disclosures regarding the risk of misuse of Facebook user data” in an investigation into the hijacking of data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

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“We allege that Facebook exacerbated its disclosure failures when it misled reporters who asked the company about its investigation into Cambridge Analytica,” said Erin Schneider, head of the regional enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission.


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GOP’s impeachment ‘game plan’ fell apart after Trump’s Yovanovitch tweet and now they’re unsure how to defend him: Politico reporter

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On CNN Saturday, Politico's Melanie Zanona noted that President Donald Trump's decision to attack former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in a tweet while she was testifying to Congress not only risks another article of impeachment — it is also leaving his Republican allies unable to defend his behavior.

"Melanie, it's hard to know what all independent and undecided voters might be thinking, but I had a guest on earlier who made a powerful point, in that some voters might be looking at the pattern of how the president describes particularly powerful women, and he would call her bad news and she had such an esteemed reputation," said anchor Fredricka Wilson.

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‘Game over’ for Trump if Sondland confirms phone call revealed by David Holmes: ex-Watergate prosecutor

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Appearing on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon, two veterans of the Watergate hearings that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon said the slow trickle of information coming out about Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings could lead to a sold case for his impeachment.

According to former prosecutor Nick Akerman, a lot could be riding on the testimony of E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland who has been put in a precarious position after diplomat David Holmes said he overheard a conversation Sondland had with the president that would indicate the president was using foreign aid as a bribe for dirt on a political opponent.

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GOP using Elise Stefanik in impeachment hearings because Jim Jordan has ‘zero credibility’ outside of Trump hardliners: MSNBC analyst

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On MSNBC's "AM Joy," communications strategist Tara Dowdell told anchor Joy Reid that Republicans now realize Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), their go-to man for shouting and intimidating congressional witnesses, was not compelling for the American people — which is why they instead arranged the stunt in Friday's hearing with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

"I think [House Intelligence chairman] Adam Schiff handled this extremely well, and I think it shows why he was the right person to lead this charge," said Dowdell. "If you look at the Republicans, just to go back to some of the points that you made earlier, they were yelling, screaming. Jim Jordan was sweating. He was sweaty. His comments were sweaty. And so, I think that when you look at —

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