FTC Forces Facebook to Follow New Privacy Rules, Get Audited

Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them that their information on the Facebook site would remain private before “repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.”
The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to ensure that it protects Facebook users’ privacy, including giving consumers “clear and prominent notice” and obtaining their “express consent” before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established.
The Federal Trade Commission works on behalf of U.S. consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices.
The proposed settlement also requires Facebook to obtain periodic assessments of its privacy practices by independent, third-party auditors for the next 20 years.
“Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not.”
Under the settlement with the FTC, Facebook is:

  • barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information;
  • required to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences;
  • required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;
  • required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information; and
  • required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.

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