Tag Archives: FTC

FTC Fines Facebook $5 Billion and Imposes New Privacy Policy



The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has imposed a historic penalty $5 billion penalty and significant requirements on Facebook to boost accountability and transparency.

Facebook Inc. will pay a record-breaking $5 billion penalty, and submit to new restrictions and a modified corporate structure that will hold the company accountable for the decisions it makes about its user’s privacy to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company violated a 2012 FTC order by deceiving users about their ability to control the privacy of their personal information.

The FTC states that the $5 billion penalty against Facebook is the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and almost 20 times greater than the largest privacy or data security penalty ever imposed worldwide. It is one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the U.S. government for any violation.

The Department of Justice will file a complaint on behalf of the FTC alleging that Facebook repeatedly used deceptive disclosures and settings to undermine users’ privacy preferences in violation of its 2012 FTC order. These tactics allowed Facebook to share users’ personal information with third-party apps that were downloaded by Facebook “friends”. The FTC alleges that many were unaware that Facebook was sharing such information, and therefore did not take the steps needed to opt-out of sharing.

The FTC has also sued Cambridge Analytica, its former Chief Executive Officer Alexander Nix, and Aleksandr Kogan, an app developer who worked with the company, alleging they used false and deceptive tactics to harvest personal information from millions of Facebook users. Kogan and Nix have agreed to a settlement with the FTC that will restrict how they conduct any business in the future.

The FTC’s new 20-year settlement order with Facebook establishes an independent privacy committee of Facebook’s board of directors, “removing unfettered control by Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg over decisions affecting user privacy”. Members of the privacy committee will be independent and appointed by an independent nomination committee. Members can only be fired by a supermajority of the Facebook board of directors.

Facebook must designate compliance officers who will be responsible for Facebook’s privacy program. These officers are subject to the approval of the new board privacy committee and can only be removed by that committee. An independent third-party assessor will evaluate the effectiveness of Facebook’s privacy program and identify any gaps.

Facebook’s order-mandated privacy program also covers WhatsApp and Instagram. Facebook must conduct a privacy review of every new or modified product, service, or practice before it is implemented and document its decisions about user privacy. Facebook must share that with the CEO of the independent assessor and the FTC.

Other requirements include:

  • Facebook must exercise greater oversight over third-party apps, including by terminating app developers that fail to certify that they are in compliance with Facebook’s platform policies or fail to justify their need for specific user data
  • Facebook is prohibited from using telephone numbers obtained to enable a security feature (e.g. two-factor authentication) for advertising
  • Facebook must provide clear and conspicuous notice of its use of facial recognition technology, and obtain affirmative express user consent prior to any use that materially exceeds its prior disclosures to users
  • Facebook must establish, implement, and maintain a comprehensive data security program
  • Facebook must encrypt user passwords and regularly scan to detect whether any passwords are stored in plaintext
  • Facebook is prohibited from asking for email passwords to other services when consumers sign up for its services

Musical.ly Fined $5.7 Million for Collecting Personal Information from Children



The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the operators of the video social networking app Musical.ly (now known as TikTok) have agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle FTC allegations that the company illegally collected personal information form children. This is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the FTC in a children’s privacy case.

The FTC’s complaint (which filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC), alleged that Musical.ly violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites and online services directed to children obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.

User accounts were public by default, which means a child’s profile bio, username, picture and videos could be seen by other users. Changing the setting to private did not make the profile private. Users could still send direct messages to private Musical.ly accounts.The complaint noted that there had been public reports of adults trying to contact users via the Musical.ly app.

The FTC complaint said that operators of the Musical.ly app were aware that a significant percentage of users were younger than 13 and received thousands of complaints from parents that their children under 13 had created Musical.ly accounts.

TikTok posted information on its newsroom about how they will work with the FTC in conjunction with the agreement. TikTok will split users into age-appropriate TikTok environments, in line with FTC guidance for mixed audience apps. The environment for younger users will not permit the sharing of personal information. It also places limits on content and user interactions.

There are two things can be learned from this situation. One is that companies that have apps or websites that collect user’s personal information really need to take steps to ensure that the data from children is kept private. Failing to do so could result in a huge fine.

The other lesson is that parents should not assume that an app will protect their child’s data – or keep their child’s profile private. Take the time to see what the app collects, and how protective their privacy settings are before allowing your child to use it.


FTC Announces Winners of Robocall Challenge



bigstock-robot-group-26063990Nobody likes robocallers, including the Federal Trade Commission. Last year, in October, the FTC launched the Robocall Challenge. The purpose was to have innovators create solutions that would block illegal robocalls.

The winners have now been announced. Nomorobo won for “Best Overall Solution”. Say the name Nomorobo out loud, and it sounds a lot like “no more robo”. It was created by Aaron Foss, who is a software developer.

There is a video on the Nomorobo website that explains how it works. It has been designed to work with existing technologies and will block illegal robocalls. It is a cloud based solution that does not require normal callers to have to enter PIN’s or CAPTCHAs.

There is another winner for “Best Overall Solution”. It has a long name: Robocall Filtering System and Device with Autonomous Blacklisting, Whitelisting, GrayListing and Caller ID spoof detection. It was created by Serdar Danis, who is a computer engineer. The two winners of “Best Overall Solution” will split the $50,000 prize.

The FTC also selected a Federal Trade Commission Technology Achievement Award winner. The winner was a solution called: Crowd-sourced Call Identification and Suppression. It was created by Daniel Klein and Dean Jackson. They are both Google engineers. There is no monetary prize for this award.

Image Stock Photo Robot Group by BigStock


GNC-2011-12-22 #731 Happy Holidays



I talk about the GoDaddy SOPA controversy in detail. I have a lot of fun on today’s show, and for those watching the video of the show I try out some new camera angles. We still need to raise about $2500.00 to meet our fund raising goals for our Support Staff. I hope you will help us out see the links at the bottom of the page.

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GNC-2011-12-15 #729 Task Saturation @ 195%



Things have been busy here in a good way. I have been pulling some 19 hour days. Hopefully by Sunday things are going to cool off just a bit and I can enjoy the holidays. I hope you will stay tuned in through the Christmas break as I will be cranking out shows throughout the holiday period. We introduce a new sponsor to the show tonight details below… I talk about GoDaddy.com coming on board as out CES 2012 Official Media Sponsor and the Special Offer!

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GNC #695 Free Speech Watch



Thank you for your amazing support of the show. At 695 Episodes they are as exciting for me to do as the day I recorded the first one. Do you have a prize you would like to donate for show #700. Several companies have already stepped up and we are going to have a huge giveaway pool of gadgets and gear.. Speaking of Gear make sure you check out the latest episodes of The Gadget Professor and Robot Underpants!

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GNC-2010-09-10 #609 Morning Tech Show to Launch!



The Morning Tech Show launches on Saturday with guest Rob Greenlee, Podcast Director at Zune & Andy McCaskey of SDR News. We will start at 9am Pacific, 12pm Eastern for a variety of topics, some surrounding tech and other topics of interest. Join me here at GeekNewsCentral.com We will have a variety of guest on week to week.

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