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HomeTechUS judge to hear Meta privacy dispute with FTC next month

US judge to hear Meta privacy dispute with FTC next month

A judge overseeing a lawsuit brought by Meta Platforms, owner of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, said he would hear arguments in late January on a request that he temporarily stop the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from unilaterally reopening a 2019 privacy agreement.

This latest dispute between Meta and the FTC began in May, when the agency said the company had misled parents about how much control they had over who their children had contact with in the Messenger Kids app, among other issues.

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The agency proposed tightening a 2019 consent agreement, that had forced Facebook, which became Meta in 2021, to pay a $5 billion penalty. The proposed changes include a prohibition on Meta from making money off young users, including in its virtual reality business. It would also expand restrictions on facial recognition technology.

Meta has asked for the FTC process to be paused until a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the reopening is resolved. Judge Randall Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he would hear briefings on the preliminary injunction on Jan. 29.

The new lawsuit is part of a battle between Meta and the FTC as the agency works to promote privacy and competition among Big Tech firms who in turn seek to halt any changes that could hurt profits.

In November, Meta filed a separate appeal against a judge’s ruling that it should be an FTC judge, not a district judge, who decides whether the consent agreement should be tightened.

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Separately, the agency has an antitrust fight with Meta. It asked a federal court in 2020 to order the company to sell Instagram, which it bought for $1 billion in 2012, and WhatsApp, which it bought for $19 billion in 2014. That case has no trial date.

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