Speaking of that FTC settlement, Bloomberg’s Matt Levine points out in his column that it has imposed some interesting governance obligations on Facebook that may curb some of Mark Zuckerberg’s power. One of the conditions imposed under the terms of the settlement is a new board privacy committee that is intended to be difficult for Zuckerberg to mess with. Here’s an excerpt from the FTC’s statement on the settlement:
“The order creates greater accountability at the board of directors level. It establishes an independent privacy committee of Facebook’s board of directors, removing unfettered control by Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg over decisions affecting user privacy. Members of the privacy committee must be independent and will be appointed by an independent nominating committee. Members can only be fired by a supermajority of the Facebook board of directors.”
Here’s Matt’s take on the independent privacy committee requirement:
“The upshot is … look, it is not entirely clear to me what the upshot is; we’ll see what happens. But my rough analysis is that if Zuckerberg wanted to do a bad privacy thing, and the independent privacy directors told him not to, he’d have a tough time of doing it. He couldn’t remove the independent privacy directors from their posts.
Perhaps he could remove them from the board, but he’d have a hard time replacing them, because the independent nominating committee has “the sole authority” to pick new directors. I suppose he could replace the nominating committee too. These provisions aren’t ironclad. But surely their purpose really is to take the final authority over one aspect of Facebook out of the hands of Zuckerberg.”
-John Jenkins, TheCorporateCounsel.net July 25,2019
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