Court Says Meta Cannot Delay US FTC From Reopening Privacy Probe

Meta Cannot Delay US FTC

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that Meta Platforms cannot delay the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from reopening an investigation into alleged privacy failures by its Facebook unit, despite Meta’s pursuit of a lawsuit challenging the agency’s authority.

The ruling, issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit based in Washington, D.C., stated that Meta had not demonstrated a high likelihood of success in its challenge and therefore did not meet the criteria for obtaining an injunction pending appeal.

This decision follows a previous ruling by the same appeals court panel on March 12, which denied a separate request by Meta to pause the FTC’s probe. The FTC’s investigation, initiated last year, aims to strengthen a 2020 privacy settlement with Facebook, seeking to prohibit the exploitation of minors’ data and expand restrictions on facial recognition technology. The agency has accused Meta of misleading parents about child privacy protections.

Meta, while denying allegations of misleading parents, filed a lawsuit against the FTC in November, challenging the agency’s authority on constitutional grounds. Among Meta’s arguments is the claim that proceeding with the FTC’s actions would infringe on its right to a trial by jury.

Both Meta and the FTC refrained from immediate comments on Friday’s court order, which addressed Meta’s appeal against a March 15 ruling by U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss. Judge Moss had refused to halt the FTC’s investigation, emphasizing the FTC’s significant public interest in scrutinizing Meta’s privacy practices.

Separately, the FTC has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Meta in Washington, accusing the company of anti-competitive behavior in the social media market. Meta has refuted these allegations, which could potentially lead to the divestment of its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms if upheld.