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Snapchat can no longer legally claim that photos sent over its service are “ephemeral,” “disappear forever” and “aren’t saved,” after a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on the 8th of May, 2014.

Snapchat Settlement

According to the FTC, Snapchat promised users that messages, photos and videos sent through the app would self-destruct and disappear completely in 10 seconds or less. However it failed to tell its users that others could save these messages without their knowledge. It also complained that though Snapchat declared that its app does not monitor a user’s location, its Android app actually did so.

If you make promises about privacy, you must honor those promises. You have a body of users drawn to the company because of privacy promises.

Snapchat agreed to a settlement without admitting or denying any wrongdoing. The company explained the steps it had taken to address many of the issues the FTC raised. As part of the settlement, Snapchat must now implement a privacy program that will be monitored by an outside privacy expert for the next 20 years. The arrangement is similar to privacy settlements that Google, Facebook and Myspace have agreed to in recent years.

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KEY POINTS
[list style=”gavel”] [li]Snapchat’s app stored video snaps that were not encrypted on the recipient’s device. The videos remained accessible to the recipient.[/li] [li]Snapchat failed to secure its “Find Friends” feature. A security breach in January allowed hackers to collect usernames and phone numbers of some 4.6 million Snapchat users[/li] [li]Snapchat’s Android app also transmitted information about a users’ location despite claiming the contrary. [/li] [/list]
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The settlement will be formally approved in 30 days once a public comment period ends. Though the settlement doesn’t have a financial component, the company could end up paying a civil penalty of up to $16,000 for each incident of violation of the agreement. In an official statement via its blog, Snapchat said that when its app was being created, “some things didn’t get the attention they could have.

One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community,” the company said.

Even before today’s consent decree was announced, we had resolved most of those concerns over the past year by improving the wording of our privacy policy, app description, and in-app just-in-time notifications,” the company said. “And we continue to invest heavily in security and countermeasures to prevent abuse.

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READ: Snapchat’s Blog Post On Its Agreement With The FTC

Terms of the settlement are said to have been lauded by Privacy Advocates. And we sure laud them too. Misuse of a consumer’s trust is a very sensitive issue, and with incidents like these becoming more and more common, it is all the more imperative that we take it upon ourselves to protect our privacy the best way we can.

Via: WSJ
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