updated 08:43 pm EDT, Wed September 11, 2013
New limited opt-out provisos may violate 2011, 2013 agreements
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is evaluating if Facebook has violated an agreement it signed with the federal government in 2011 when it recently changed privacy policies for users. The agreement required Facebook to acquire the explicit permission of users before exposing private information, and Facebook's implementation of this agreement with the new policies may be in error, violating either the 2011 accord or the "sponsored stories" class action suit this year.
"Facebook never sought out a discussion with us beforehand about these proposed changes," FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said. "We're monitoring compliance with the order. Part of that involves interacting with Facebook."
Facebook spokeswoman Jodi Seth claimed 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. We take these issues very seriously and are confident that our policies are fully compliant with our agreement with the FTC."
Facebook made the changes public on August 29, and told users that the policy would be implemented on September 5. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) requested the FTC open the investigation about the change in policy that gives users limited opt-out ability of personal information, and an assumption on the part of Facebook that the parents of teenagers on the service have implicitly given permission for the names and likenesses of the children to be used in the company's advertising.