Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) finally reached a settlement agreement with the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding its privacy violations.
Based on the settlement agreement, the social network giant agreed to provide “clear and prominent notice” to users whenever information set as private in privacy settings is used. Prior to sharing any information, the company must obtain an affirmative express consent from users. Facebook’s services are also subject to privacy audits every two years within the next 20 years.
The FTC prohibited Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information. The company is also required to obtain affirmative andexpress consent from users before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences. Additionally, Facebook is required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account.
In a statement, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, “Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not.”
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) first agreed to settle the FTC complaint in November 2011. Before finalizing the settlement agreement, the FTC noted the different privacy violations of the company; including the failure of the company to inform users that certain information designated as private by users such as their “Friends List” had become visible to the public in December 2009. The company also failed to comply with the Safe Harbor Framework governing data transfers between the United States and the European Union.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) did not keep its promise to users that it will not share their information to advertisers personal data to third party apps users installed. The company also failed to certify the security of participating apps in their Verified Apps program.
Aside from Facebook, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) also reached a settlement agreement with FTC regarding the agency’s allegation that it circumvented the privacy settings of millions of consumers using Apple’s Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices. Google agreed to pay $22.5 million fine.