FTC Finalizes Privacy Settlement with Facebook

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On August 10, the FTC approved a final settlement to resolve charges that Facebook deceived customers by failing to meet stated privacy protections. The FTC alleged, among other things, that Facebook shared personal information with advertisers despite assurances that it would not do so. The agreement does not include any monetary penalty, but Facebook is prohibited from making any deceptive privacy claim, and it must obtain consumers’ approval before changing the way it shares their data. For the next twenty years, Facebook also must obtain periodic assessments of its privacy practices by independent auditors. One Commissioner objected, stating that because the agreement includes a denial of the allegations, the Commission does not have sufficient grounds under the FTC Act to accept the consent agreement. Further, the dissenting Commissioner stated that the settlement is insufficient because it does not clearly extend to all representations made in the Facebook environment and specifically may not cover third-party applications.