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Politics

Mark Zuckerberg under fire for Facebook's privacy mistakes

Sen. Ron Wyden wants federal regulators to hold the CEO personally responsible.

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There's an ongoing FTC investigation into whether Facebook violated a legal agreement with the US government. 

James Martin/CNET

Sen. Ron Wyden wants the Federal Trade Commission to hold Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg "individually liable" for the social network's privacy mistakes.

"Given Mr. Zuckerberg's deceptive statements, his personal control over Facebook, and his role in approving key decisions related to the sharing of user data, the FTC can and must hold Mr. Zuckerberg personally responsible for these continued violations," the Democratic lawmaker wrote Tuesday in a letter to the FTC (PDF). "The FTC must also make clear the significant and material penalties that will apply to both Facebook the corporation and Mr. Zuckerberg the individual should any future violations occur."

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This comes after a report Friday that the FTC is looking into how to hold Zuckerberg accountable, including examining his past statements on privacy. The agency started investigating Facebook last year after it was revealed that UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission. The FTC investigation, which is ongoing, is focused on whether the social network violated a legal agreement with the US government to keep Facebook users' data private.

In his letter to the FTC, Wyden says any settlement the agency reaches with Facebook should hold Zuckerberg accountable or his "flagrant, repeated violations of Americans' privacy will continue." The senator pointed to documents released by the UK Parliament that reportedly showed Zuckerberg oversaw the social network's data-sharing deals.

The FTC confirmed it received Wyden's letter but declined to comment further. 

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Originally published April 23, 1:53 p.m. PT.
Update, 2:18 p.m.: Adds confirmation from Wyden and the FTC.