The United States Federal Trade Commission on Monday confirmed it’s investigating Facebook’s data privacy scandal involving American data research and consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The federal regulator takes recent media reports on the matter “very seriously,” according to Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. The exact scope of the probe hasn’t been disclosed, with the official only noting the FTC is willing to use “all of its tools” in order to get to the bottom of the controversy and determine whether Facebook was in violation of the Privacy Shield framework honored by both the U.S. and the European Union. For much the same reasons, regulators on the Old Continent already confirmed they’re looking into the matter last week.
The federal agency is also investigating the possibility that Facebook’s episode with Cambridge Analytica violates the FTC Act and the company’s 2011 settlement with Washington which saw Facebook vow to do a better job at informing its users about how their data is being collected and managed, in addition to ensuring a higher degree of privacy protections meant to be enabled by default. The probe is “non-public” in nature and may also span other aspects of the case, as per Mr. Pahl. The development confirms recent reports on the matter and signals Facebook is only now entering the second phase of the ordeal where it will be subjected to a high degree of public scrutiny, with many industry watchers already speculating the company is set to be hit with heavy regulations in the near future as a direct consequence of the data harvesting it indirectly allowed Cambridge Analytica to conduct in 2014.