Government Finalizes Privacy Settlement with Facebook

by Teresa Anderson

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finalized a settlement with Facebook over charges that the social media giant deceived the public by telling them they could keep their Facebook information private and then disseminating that information.

According to the settlement, Facebook must obtain express consent from users before making their information public. Facebook is also required to maintain a comprehensive privacy program to protect user information. This program will be audited every two years for the next 20 years.

The settlement also covers third-party apps. Under the terms of the settlement, Facebook is responsible if any apps violate the established privacy protections.

The settlement could have consequences beyond the actions of Facebook, however. FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch issued a dissent in the settlement, arguing that Facebook should not have been able to accept the settlement while simultaneously disavowing any misconduct.

Rosch argued that the FTC should change its rules to require companies to admit to the conduct in the settlement before accepting its terms. In his dissent, Rosch recommended changing FTC rules to those used by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Rosch wrote that “the SEC has adopted a policy not to permit a defendant or respondent to consent to a judgment or order that imposes a sanction while denying the allegations in the complaint or order for proceedings.”

image from birgerking/flickr


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