The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is apparently aware of SnapChat, and the regulatory body doesn’t like it all that much. The popular messaging application makes promises that the FTC says it doesn’t keep. According to the regulator SnapChat’s promises of making messages and photos “disappear forever” isn’t all that accurate, and the company will face scrutiny on its claims in the future.
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The claim by SnapChat, which is the central premise of the entire service, is inaccurate according to the FTC. While other users and third part applications are able to copy and transmit anything sent on SnapChat, the service is not as secure as it seems to be. Businesses offering privacy and security as a major selling point need to stick to those claims closely according to the body.
FTC slaps SnapChat promises
The FTC announced a settlement between itself and the company in order to resolve the issue. There was no monetary penalty for the SnapChat violation, but the company will now have to subject itself to independent audits of its user privacy for the next 20 years. The instant messaging service became a surprise hit in 2013 as users appeared to care more and more about their privacy.
In a statement FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said “If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises.” SnapChat misrepresented the security and privacy of its messaging service according to the Federal regulator, though the penalty for doing s will probably not hit the company very hard.
Among the specific offenses committed by the company, the Federal Trade Commission listed a failure to secure the Find Friends feature, which led to the exposure of the data of 4.6 million users last year, its video snaps, which remain stored on the device of the recipient in unencrypted format even after supposedly deleted, and the ability to take a screenshot without notification to the sender, which is possible on some devices.
SnapChat maintains privacy at core
SnapChat may maintain privacy as the center of its experience, but the company is also selling that experience. Just because it promises a little thing like security doesn’t mean it will deliver. The FTC is trying to bring attention to the abuses of privacy that companies like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and SnapChat have been engaged in recent years.
The difference between SnapChat and most, however, is that company actually sells itself on its privacy features. The company may owe its success to that one idea, but it clearly has not followed through with its claims. Now that the FTC has managed to get it to agree to a privacy audit the situation may improve, but consumers are still at a loss as to what company can be trusted.
Organization like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are active in rating online behavior in terms of the likelihood of privacy violation, but there is only one piece of advice that really matters: if you don’t want people to see it, don’t send it over the internet.