Meta says it will appeal US judge's ruling in privacy fight with FTC

FILE PHOTO: A Meta logo is seen on a beach during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, June 19, 2023. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Meta Platforms, which owns WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, said on Tuesday it would appeal a judge's ruling that a U.S. regulator can seek to reduce the amount of money the social media company makes from users under 18.

Judge Timothy Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a motion filed by Meta on Monday for the court to hear the dispute with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Meta in a court filing on Tuesday said it would appeal Kelly's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The fight is largely over whether an FTC judge or a district judge will decide whether the FTC can unilaterally tighten an earlier consent decree to limit what Meta makes off younger users, with the court process presumed to be quicker. Either would be appealed to a U.S. appeals court.

The dispute started in May when the FTC proposed changing a settlement reached in 2019 that required Facebook, which became Meta in 2021, to pay $5 billion.

The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The agency also accused Meta of misleading parents about how much control they had over who their children had contact with in the Messenger Kids app, among other issues. The FTC said it would tighten the 2019 settlement to bar Meta from making money off data collected on users under age 18, including in its virtual reality business. It would also face expanded limitations on using facial recognition technology.

Meta, which is battling short video app TikTok for young users' attention, gets more than 98% of its income from digital ads targeted using personal data.

Separately, the agency also asked a federal court in 2020 to order Facebook to sell Instagram, which it bought for $1 billion in 2012, and WhatsApp, which it bought for $19 billion in 2014. The case has not yet gone to trial.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Mark Porter and Richard Chang)

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