FTC: Facebook privacy policy review part of regular monitoring

The review comes as Facebook's proposed policy changes cause controversy

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is examining Facebook's proposed new privacy policy, which has rankled privacy activists who contend it allows users to be inserted into advertisements without their consent.

The FTC's review is not an inquiry, but part of a regular monitoring program set in place after a 2011 settlement with Facebook, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

The social networking site proposed updates in August to its policies that explain how people's content is used in advertisements for which they receive no compensation. Facebook contends the change merely clarifies language that already allowed such use.

As a result, six privacy groups complained to the FTC in a Sept. 4 letter, saying the changes to its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities violate the 2011 settlement.

The proposed change to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities states that users give permission to Facebook to use their name, profile picture and content in connection with commercial, sponsored or related content.

"This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you," according to the proposed update. It goes on to state, "We do not give your content or information to advertisers without your consent."

A Facebook spokesman said via email that "we routinely discuss policy updates with the FTC and this time is no different. Importantly, our updated policies do not grant Facebook any additional rights to use consumer information in advertising. Rather, the new policies further clarify and explain our existing practices."

Facebook reached an agreement with the agency in November 2011 after the agency alleged the site was repeatedly sharing information that users believed was private. Under the settlement terms, Facebook admitted no guilt but agreed to obtain users' consent before sharing their information beyond their established privacy settings.

Under the FTC order, Facebook isn't required to submit changes to its privacy and data use policy to the agency. But the order does require Facebook to obtain third-party certifying audits every two years over the next 20 years to ensure its privacy program meets or exceeds the order's requirements.

Facebook has faced other legal pressure over how it has used people's data.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved on Aug. 26 the establishment of a US$20 million fund for people whose personal information was allegedly used without permission in "sponsored stories," an advertising product that draws on items people have indicated they "Like" on the site.

Facebook will pay $15 each to users who submitted valid claims and were part of the class-action suit, filed in 2011. The settlement also called on Facebook to makes changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to give users clearer guidelines on how their information is used in sponsored stories.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentregulationinternetFacebooksocial networkingU.S. Federal Trade CommissionInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?