FTC Approves Facebook Privacy Settlement

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The FTC today announced that it has reached a final settlement with Facebook over charges that the social network deceived consumers by promising to keep their information private, then "repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public."

"Under terms of the settlement, Facebook has agreed to provide users with 'clear and prominent notice' anytime their information is shared," writes CNET News' Don Reisinger. "But before that can happen, Facebook must obtain its users' 'express consent' before sharing any information that exists outside the auspices of its privacy settings. In addition, the agency will force Facebook to maintain a 'comprehensive privacy program,' and subject its service to biennial privacy audits."

"However, the settlement also states that Facebook denies the FTC's allegations and makes no admission of guilt," writes Computerworld's Juan Carlos Perez.

"Three of the commissioners voted to approve the settlement, while Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissented," writes Computerworld's Juan Carlos Perez. "Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen didn't participate in the vote. Rosch said in a separate statement that he voted against approval because he objects to allowing Facebook to deny guilt, and because he's not sure that the agreement covers deceptive practices both by Facebook and by third-party applications on its platform. The FTC said that there is 'a strong reason to believe' that the settlement serves the public interest because it makes Facebook liable to civil lawsuits 'for a broad range of deceptive conduct.'"

"But wait, seriously? It's pretty unbelievable that Facebook gets to walk without even the tiniest slap-on-the-wrist of a fine," writes Gizmodo's Mario Aguilar. "Let's review: Facebook lures hundreds of people into its product with a false promise, violates that promise, makes millions billions of dollars off the violation, and gets away with it. Basically all Facebook is agreeing to do is what it promised us in the first place."