“Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly lied to the American people about privacy. I think he ought to be held personally accountable, which is everything from financial fines to — and let me underline this — the possibility of a prison term.”
Those are the words of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who said Facebook Inc.’s chief executive should face serious consequences for misuse of consumers’ personal data.
“He hurt a lot of people,” Wyden told Portland’s Willamette Weekly newspaper in an interview published last week.
Wyden introduced a bill in 2018 that would give the Federal Trade Commission expanded powers to punish companies that violate consumers’ data privacy, including steep fines and potential prison time for executives.
“There is a precedent for this,” Wyden told Willamette Weekely. “In financial services, if the CEO and the executives lie about the financials, they can be held personally accountable.”
Facebook is not the only subject of Wyden’s ire. Speaking in July after the government’s $700 million settlement with Equifax Inc. EFX, -0.52% over its 2017 data breach, Wyden said: “Equifax leaders knew its security was pitifully weak and yet did nothing to correct it, according to the FTC. In a just world, these executives would be going to jail.”
Despite Wyden’s wishes, that’s probably not going to actually happen. But Facebook may yet pay a price. Lawmakers have called for the company to be broken up, the FTC has opened an antitrust investigation into the tech giant, and a group of state attorneys general are reportedly pursuing a wider antitrust case against tech companies, likely including Facebook.