The ongoing legal tussle between Meta Platforms, the parent company of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is slated for a late January hearing. The request is to temporarily halt the FTC from unilaterally reopening a 2019 privacy agreement.
This conflict sparked in May when the FTC accused Meta of misleading parents regarding control over their children’s interactions on the Messenger Kids app, among other concerns. The proposed amendments to the 2019 consent agreement aim to impose stricter conditions on Meta, preventing the company from profiting off young users, even in its virtual reality sector, and expanding limitations on facial recognition tech.
Meta has called for a pause in the FTC’s proceedings until a lawsuit challenging the constitutional grounds of the reopening concludes. Judge Randall Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has scheduled briefings on the preliminary injunction for January 29.
This legal wrangle forms part of an ongoing battle between Meta and the FTC, with the agency striving to bolster privacy and competition in the Big Tech sphere, while these tech giants push back against changes that could impact their profits.
In a separate development, Meta has appealed a judge’s ruling requiring the decision on tightening the consent agreement to be made by an FTC judge rather than a district judge.
Simultaneously, the FTC continues an antitrust battle against Meta, seeking in a 2020 federal court filing to compel the company to divest Instagram, acquired for $1 billion in 2012, and WhatsApp, bought for $19 billion in 2014. However, a trial date for this case has not been set.