0 FTC Finalizes Settlement with SnapChat Over Deceptive Marketing, Unauthorized Data Collection

FTC Finalizes Settlement with SnapChat Over Deceptive Marketing, Unauthorized Data Collection

Image: Pixabay
January 2, 2015

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Wednesday finalized a settlement between the agency and photo-sharing website SnapChat.

The order bans the company from misrepresenting how it uses customer data and will be required to implement a comprehensive privacy policy which will be monitored by an outside company for 20 years.

The settlement is in response to an FTC complaint early last year alleging that SnapChat misled customers into believing that the photos shared with other users would permanently disappear, which wasn't necessarily the case. SnapChat also failed to disclose how it would access and collect user data, and failed to protect that information from a January data breach.

SnapChat allows users to set the length of time a photo will be available before sharing it directly with friends. The company claimed that after the pre-set time ended, the photo would disappear never to be accessed again.

But, the FTC complaint outlined a number of ways that SnapChat photos could be saved.

Users that accessed their SnapChat account through a third-party application could view, save and share photos. Users could also access video snaps using their computer since videos were saved outside the application and on the phone's hard drive.

iPhone users with operating systems older than iOS7 were able to evade the application's screenshot detection feature allowing people to save photos without the sender knowing.

The complaint also claims that the company collected geolocation data from Android-phone users and collected contact information from iPhone users.

A security breach resulting in 4.6 million stolen usernames and phone numbers took place because the company failed to secure its Find Friends feature.