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Facebook Settles Rift with US FTC Over Privacy Issues But With Conditions

Just a day after U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered Google to pay an amount with the sum of $22.5 million that serves as a fine for privacy-infringing practices, the bureau decided to let Facebook go off the hook without requiring a single penny, although there were conditions laid for the social network to comply.

Facebook has always been the target of scrutiny as far as privacy is concerned. However, the social network also displayed its willingness to change its privacy policies to comply with demands of the government. That could be the reason why FTC didn’t require the company to pay a hefty amount. But it doesn’t mean Facebook is off the hook of FTC forever because the bureau will closely monitor Mark Zuckerberg’s company if it complies with the conditions, according to the report from an Australian news firm. Here are two of the key conditions FTC gave to Facebook.

Timely Audits. Facebook and FTC agreed on a condition that the former will have to submit audits of its privacy practices every other year within the 2-decade time span for the latter to be able to monitor if violations have been done. Also, the FTC found that while privacy policies can be changed easily, monitoring the company for 20 years would ensure no private information will again be revealed without approval from concerned users. Or, at least, it will give Facebook a chill if it’s going to repeat what it has done.

Explicit Approval from Users. Since the focus of the complaint was Facebook’s actions to reveal some information without necessary authorization from users, FTC let the social network commit to acquire explicit approval from users before divulging any information that can be found in each account of nearly a billion users.

There are some people who believe Facebook has gotten off the hook so easily. Of course, it is easier to compare this case with that of Google’s, and I believe the key factor used by FTC in ruling out these decisions is if there were “willful” or “deliberate” action taken by both companies that resulted to the violation of users’ privacy.

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