On November 29, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Facebook has settled charges that it deceived consumers by making false privacy promises. The settlement requires Facebook to (1) not misrepresent how it maintains the privacy or security of users’ personal information (2) obtain users’ “affirmative express consent” before sharing their information with any third party that “materially exceeds the restrictions imposed by a user’s privacy setting(s),” (3) implement procedures to prevent a third party from accessing users’ information no later than 30 days after the user has deleted such information or terminated his or her account, (4) establish, implement and maintain a comprehensive privacy program, and (5) obtain initial and biennial assessments and reports regarding its privacy practices for the next 20 years.
Recent developments involving the use of facial recognition technology have raised privacy concerns in the United States, Europe and Canada. As we reported earlier this month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) and several other consumer privacy advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Facebook for its use of facial recognition technology. According to EPIC’s complaint, Facebook’s Tag Suggestions feature recognizes individuals’ faces based on photographs already on Facebook, then suggests that users “confirm Facebook’s identification of facial images in user photos” when they upload new photos to their Facebook profiles. Continue Reading Use of Facial Recognition Technology Raises Privacy Concerns
On June 10, 2011, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that Facebook’s facial recognition and automated online image identification features harm consumers and constitute “unfair and deceptive acts and practices.” According to a post on The Facebook Blog, the Tag Suggestions feature matches uploaded “new photos to other photos [the user is] tagged in.” Facebook then “[groups] similar photos together and, whenever possible, suggest[s] the name of the friend in the photos.” On June 13, 2011, Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) released a statement supporting the complaint and indicating that he will “continue to closely monitor this issue.” Continue Reading Privacy Group Files FTC Complaint Regarding Facebook’s Facial Recognition Technology
On September 15, 2010, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a $100,000 settlement with EchoMetrix, a developer of parental control software that monitors children’s online activity. The settlement comes one year after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) alleged in a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission that EcoMetrix was deceptively collecting and marketing children’s information.
On December 17, 2009, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) filed a complaint with the FTC claiming that Facebook is engaging “unfair and deceptive trade practices” by changing its privacy policies. Notably, the changes allow anyone who browses the Internet to view a Facebook user’s name, profile picture, gender, geographic region and list of friends. Facebook has stated that it implemented these changes to make it easier to find individual users among the estimated 350 million Facebook users.