Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, filed a lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission, arguing that the agency lacks the constitutional authority to go after the company over how it handles child data privacy.
The lawsuit is Meta’s latest response to a lawsuit filed by the FTC and 42 attorneys general alleging that the company knowing developed addictive social media features and violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal data on users under 13 without parental consent. That would mark a violation of a 2020 privacy order issued by the FTC in this area. Meta has already filed an appeal, but the lawsuit takes another step towards hobbling the FTC in this legal fight.
Rather than debate the claims made in the lawsuit, Meta said the agency lacks the authority to change the terms of the 2020 order. The FTC is attempting to change the terms of the agreement to prevent Meta from making money from the data it collects from minors.
“In this Complaint, Meta does not seek to litigate the merits of the Commission’s accusations and findings against Meta in the FTC Proceeding. Instead, Meta challenges the constitutionality of five structural characteristics of the Commission that render the FTC Proceeding unconstitutional,” said the lawsuit, which was filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C.
The lawsuit will attempt to raise the question of how much power the FTC is able to wield, which could have far-reaching implications for other businesses and the agency’s authority.
Earlier this week, A D.C. district court judge ruled against Meta in a separate lawsuit that challenged the FTC’s ability to lower the amount it makes on data from children, according to The Hill. But in that instance, the district judge denied the motion because the court lacked authority over the FTC’s 2020 agreement.
Update: A FTC spokesperson declined to comment.
The move was met with backlash from some lawmakers.
“Once again Meta (aka Facebook) is prioritizing profits over all else – over the safety of children, the privacy of its users, and compliance with the law…rather than complying with the law, Meta has decided to run to court complaining that the 110-year old FTC is unconstitutional. The court must reject any argument that would weaken the FTC’s ability to enforce critical laws that protect consumers,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota.