Possible $5B Facebook fine echoes European tech penalties

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook’s revelation that it could face a $5 billion federal privacy fine is the latest sign of U.S. moves toward tighter regulation of the technology industry, which has enjoyed years of nearly unrestricted growth with little oversight.

Facebook said Wednesday it is planning for a fine between $3 billion and $5 billion and formally set aside $3 billion for the FTC, which is investigating whether the social network violated its users’ privacy. The amount is a contingency against a possible penalty; Facebook noted that the “matter remains unresolved.”

U.S. regulators could be taking a cue from the large penalties their European counterparts have been handing out to U.S. technology giants. Google, for instance, now owes almost $10 billion in European penalties for allegedly uncompetitive behavior. It is appealing those rulings.

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