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Meta's Legal Woes Intensify as FTC Privacy Review Proceeds Without Delay


Lauren Miller

March 30, 2024 - 01:19 am


Meta's Legal Struggle: Court Denies Delay in FTC's Privacy Reexamination

In a recent development that signifies a setback for Meta Platforms Inc., the U.S. Federal Appeals Court has declined Meta's appeal to delay a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reevaluation of alleged privacy violations within its prolific social media branch, Facebook. This decision exacerbates the woes of the tech giant, which has encountered a series of legal defeats regarding the FTC's authority to revisit a privacy settlement established in 2020.

Appeals Court Rejects Meta's Injunction Request

The ruling, which took place on Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asserts that Meta failed to meet the stringent conditions required for an injunction pending appeal concerning its five constitutional challenges. The court's stark rebuke, "None has a likelihood of success," underlines a doubting stance towards Meta's arguments for postponement.

The judgment rendered by the court underscores the relentless impasse Meta faces. Earlier in the month, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss dismissed Meta's plea for a preliminary injunction on the 14th of March. Judge Moss emphasized that should the FTC's allegations hold true—indicating that Meta's actions are compromising consumer privacy—it would align with public interest for the issue to be addressed forthwith.

FTC Targets Privacy Safeguards and Children's Data

The FTC’s probe is primarily concentrated on reinforcing privacy protections in the settlement with Meta. The amendments suggested by the FTC place emphasis on curtailing the exploitation of minor's data. Additionally, the proposed changes call for an expansion in the limitations concerning the use of facial recognition technology.

These propositions have surfaced amidst accusations that Meta has engaged in deceptive practices, most notably with false assurances regarding child safety measures on their platforms. The FTC's firm stance reflects a growing trend of scrutinizing and reinforcing children's data privacy and the ethics involved in employing facial recognition software.

Understanding the Legal Tussle

The case, formally recognized as Meta Platforms, Inc. v. FTC, D.C. Cir., No. 24-05054, is a pivotal moment in legal precedents pertaining to digital privacy and technology companies' accountability. Meta's battle with the FTC encapsulates a broader public conversation about user privacy and data security. The latest verdict from the D.C. Circuit evidences a judiciary system intent on ensuring that technology enterprises do not evade responsibility especially when user privacy is at stake.

The Gravity of the $5 Billion Penalty

Meta's entanglement with the FTC dates back to 2020, when the company was fined a staggering $5 billion over privacy mishaps. This fine was part of a settlement that was presumed to set the framework for future data security postures within the company. However, allegations have surfaced that Meta did not adhere to the terms of this settlement, prompting the FTC to consider reopening the case.

The significance of the $5 billion penalty lies in its record-setting scale and its projected role as a deterrent against similar privacy breaches in the future. Yet, the FTC's current reassessment could signal that such punitive measures were insufficient in compelling Meta to refine their privacy protocols as agreed.

Implications for Meta and the Tech Industry

The continuing legal saga has broad implications for Meta and the technology industry at large, as regulatory bodies like the FTC intensify their oversight on privacy practices. Meta's challenge to delay the FTC's action was a tactical move, seeking to mitigate potential disruptions to its operations and image. The refusal by the court to grant the injunction underscores a trend towards greater accountability and stricter adherence to privacy commitments made by tech firms to users and regulators alike.

As digital privacy becomes an increasingly contentious issue, tech companies are finding themselves at the crossroads of user trust and regulatory compliance. The actions of Meta and the resulting litigations will likely have a cascading effect, shaping how tech giants approach user privacy and setting a precedent for future enforcement by regulatory bodies.

Reporter and Editor Contributions

The detailed account of this development was reported by Kartikay Mehrotra, who can be reached at, for Bloomberg Law. Overseeing the integrity and factual accuracy of this story were editors Cheryl Saenz and Bill Swindell, who can be contacted at and, respectively.

The Role of Public Interest in Privacy Protection

The resoluteness of the courts to decide against a stay in proceedings echoes a broader societal concern regarding the sanctity of consumer privacy. Public interest plays an instrumental role when determining the necessity and immediacy of regulatory actions such as those pursued by the FTC. By aligning law enforcement actions with the welfare of the public, the court has signaled its commitment to prioritizing the privacy rights of individuals over the interests of businesses.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, maintaining the delicate balance between enabling technological innovation and protecting personal information becomes paramount. The Meta case thus emerges as a bellwether for how privacy cases are perceived and handled in the context of public interest. This is especially relevant in instances where the potential risks associated with privacy breaches could have far-reaching consequences on consumer trust and the security of personal data.

The Path Forward for Meta's Legal Strategy

Meta's recourse to appeal the denial of an injunction is indicative of how crucial this battle is in the context of their ongoing legal strategy. By attempting to pause the FTC's reassessment, Meta sought time to possibly regroup and reassess its approach to handling privacy issues. Nevertheless, the court's determination to allow the FTC's actions to continue unabated suggests more turbulent waters ahead for the tech behemoth.

Moving forward, Meta is likely to continue to doggedly defend its privacy practices, while also possibly revamping its approach to data protection. The outcome of this case may prompt Meta and similar companies to place a greater emphasis on privacy by design, potentially leading to more stringent internal controls and a renewed focus on establishing clear and protectable privacy standards.

The Message to Other Technology Giants

The unfolding legal challenges faced by Meta are not just pertinent to the company alone; they resonate with the technology industry as an entity. The stringent examination by regulatory agencies serves as a cautionary tale for other tech giants that may similarly be under scrutiny for their privacy practices.

Other companies are undoubtedly monitoring Meta's situation closely, gauging the implications it may have for their own operations. A key takeaway is the need for proactive rather than reactive privacy measures. This includes continuous investment in privacy technologies, regular audits, transparency with users, and compliance with both the letter and spirit of regulatory settlements. The Meta outcome could provide a benchmark for how vigorously future privacy infractions are policed and penalized across the tech sector.

Ensuring Compliance and Transparency

From this part of the twenty-first century onwards, companies like Meta face not just regulatory hurdles but also the task of regaining user trust. Compliance with settlements like the one Meta entered into with the FTC in 2020 is not a mere formality; it is essential to the relationship companies have with their customers. The underlying theme of the FTC’s actions is clear: transparency and accountability in how user data is managed and protected are non-negotiable.


In light of this decisive court ruling, Meta's contention with the FTC outlines the formidable challenges that lie ahead for safeguarding consumer privacy. The direction taken by the judiciary, favoring the integrity of public interest over the mitigating circumstances provided by the company, not only hardens the stance against privacy mismanagement but also sets a precedent for future conflicts within the sphere of digital rights and technology.

Meta Platforms, Inc.’s journey through the legal labyrinth continues, illustrating a larger dialogue about privacy in the digital age. As the tech giant seeks to navigate the intricacies of this legal battle, the industry watches with bated breath, recognizing that the reverberations of this case will be felt far beyond the courtroom.

The full ruling can be found in the case: Meta Platforms, Inc. v. FTC, D.C. Cir., No. 24-05054, dated 3/29/24.