Facebook Settlement with FTC reached

Nov 30, 2011, 09:18 by R.E. Christian

Facebook, accused of deceiving its customers, has agreed to take steps to assure their privacy won't be violated in the future, U.S. regulators said Tuesday.

The Federal Trade Commission said in a release the social networking Web site has agreed to give people clear and prominent notice -- and obtain their express consent -- before sharing their information beyond established privacy settings.

The FTC had charged Facebook with deceiving people by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.

"Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. "Facebook's innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not."

Among the commission's eight-count complaint was that in December 2009 Facebook changed its Web site so users' list of friends and other information they may have designated as private was made public. Users were not warned the change was coming and Facebook did not seek their approval.

Under the proposed settlement, under which Facebook does not admit guilt, the online social networking company also would be required to create a program 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.

Within the next six month, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, Facebook would be required to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure consumers' privacy is protected.

The agreement, passed on a 4-0 commission vote, will be put up for public comment for 30 days, after which the commission will decide whether to make it final.

Source: UPI