In recent years, authorities have increased their policing of tech companies that flaunt data and privacy regulations. However, there is obviously a problem with how to punish these companies. Breaking tech giants up is a controversial debate, and fines don’t seem to do the trick. When Facebook settled a U.S. antitrust case for $5 billion this year, even that record amount was a drop in the ocean.
One U.S. bill aims to make punishments more severe by targeting executives of offending tech companies. The bill proposes jail time of up to 20 years for executives of companies that violate privacy and data laws.
Tabled by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) last week, the “Mind Your Own Business Act” is likely to stir debate. It suggests giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to create more standards for tech solutions.
If companies fall foul of those new standards they will face increased punishments. Among them will be fines up to 4 percent of global annual turnover. Yes, this is the same penalty employed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.
However, the U.S. proposal would take it further by also threatening senior execs with jail time. The punishment would only be for senior executives who “knowingly lie to the FTC”. Speaking about the bill, Wyden targeted Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“Mark Zuckerberg won’t take Americans’ privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences. A slap on the wrist from the FTC won’t do the job, so under my bill he’d face jail time for lying to the government.”
“Companies that wish to condition products and services on the sale or sharing of consumer data must offer another, similar privacy-friendly version of their product, for which they can charge a reasonable fee,” reads Wyden’s release. “This fee will be waived for low-income consumers who are eligible for the Federal Communication Commission’s Lifeline program.”