Meta Files Lawsuit Arguing FTC’s In-House Courts are Unconstitutional

Meta on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission arguing its in-house trials are unconstitutional.

Photo by Julio Lopez via Unsplash

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Meta wants to put the system on trial.

In the latest chapter of an ongoing legal fight between Zuckerberg’s empire and the Federal Trade Commission, Meta filed a lawsuit against the agency arguing its in-house trials are unconstitutional. Add it to the growing list of corporations pushing back on the legitimacy of US regulatory bodies.

A Few Good Metas

Way back in 2020, the FTC and then-Facebook agreed to a $5 billion settlement following an investigation into the social platform’s laissez-faire approach to protecting user privacy. The FTC effectively reopened the case this past May, arguing that Meta repeatedly violated guarantees it had made in the agreement, and proposed a handful of new privacy restrictions, including a blanket ban on monetizing user data derived from minors. (The 2020 agreement itself came after the FTC found that Facebook had violated privacy policies from a previous agreement with the agency in 2012).

On Monday, a US district judge ruled the FTC could move forward with its push to revise the 2020 agreement. In response, Meta filed a lawsuit late Wednesday with a Washington federal court to halt the FTC’s proceedings, arguing that the agency is operating as “prosecutor, judge, and jury in the same case” because of its in-house court system that violates the company’s right to due process.

It’s similar to arguments already being made by other corporations:

  • Earlier this year, gene-sequencing biotech giant Illumina scored a fast-track appeal of an FTC order to unwind its $7 billion acquisition of cancer detection startup Grail. Some see the case, currently being heard in the 5th Circuit Court, potentially going all the way to the Supreme Court — which could ultimately rule to blunt the FTC’s authority.
  • On Wednesday, Elon Musk and Mark Cuban-backed hedge-fund manager George Jarkesy testified in front of the Supreme Court arguing that the Security Exchange Commission’s reliance on in-house courts with no peer jury is also unconstitutional — an adverse ruling for the SEC could also ultimately blunt its authority.

Antibluster: Of course, where some see a bold stance against federal overreach, others see the type of anti-antitrust bluster typical of massive corporations. “Meta’s lawsuit is a baseless attack on the FTC’s authority, granted to it by Congress,” Katherine Van Dyck, senior counsel at the anti-monopoly nonprofit the American Economic Liberties Project, wrote in a statement. “The Commission was established over a century ago to protect consumers from predatory, unfair, and anticompetitive businesses that erode our democracy when left unchecked.”