FTC Facebook verdict: "express consent" required

This week the FTC has settled its privacy complaint with Facebook with an agreement that the social network will obtain "express consent" before they share any information of said users outside its pre-written privacy settings. The agreement makes it so that Facebook must provide users with "clear and prominent notice" any time user information is shared. It also makes Facebook keep a "comprehensive privacy program" maintained and subject to biennial privacy audits.

This settlement is the end of a process which started in November of 2011, today's date being the final announcement and cut-off time for Facebook to comply with said orders. Each violation of these orders will result in a penalty from the FTC for up to $16,000 apiece. The investigation itself began back in 2009 when initial complains from privacy watchdogs suggested private information was being shared by Facebook from users who had opted out of such activities.

This settlement comes just one day after the FTC's settlement with Google which resulted in a $22.5 million dollar fine. That fine was the largest ever levied by the company for a violation of their orders. The agency's commissioners issued a joint statement today which read in part as follows.

"We intend to monitor closely Facebook's compliance with the order, and will not hesitate to seek civil penalties for any violations.

... A statement from Facebook about an app's conduct may well amount to a promise that Facebook is taking steps to assure the level of privacy or security that the app provides for consumers' information." – FTC

Have a peek at the timeline below to see other FTC activities as of late to see how they're taking care of business across the web in the USA here in the summer of 2012.