August 13, 2012, 10:54 AM

The FTC settles with Facebook over privacy charges

The settlement requires Facebook to do more to protect users’ privacy.

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The Federal Trade Commission last week finalized a settlement with Facebook Inc. over how the social network shares information provided by its users.

The FTC approved the settlement, which was proposed late last year, after a period of public review. Dozens of consumers and consumer privacy groups submitted opinions on the settlement during the review period.

The settlement requires that Facebook get consumers’ consent before their information is shared beyond the scope of the privacy settings they select. Facebook also must create and maintain a privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with existing and new products and services, and to protect the confidentiality of consumers’ existing information, the FTC says. After a Facebook user deletes his account, Facebook must act within 30 days to prevent anyone from accessing that person’s information. The social network will also submit its privacy practices to an audit every two years by independent auditors; the auditing regime will last for the next 20 years, under the settlement.

If Facebook violates the agreement, it is subject to civil penalties of up to $16,000 per infraction, the FTC says. Facebook did not immediately respond to inquiries about the settlement, but has said publicly that it intends to abide by the requirements put forth in the settlement.

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