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Facebook in talks with U.S. FTC over privacy settings

by Matthews Estell
12 Nov 2011 at 07:28hrs | Views
Facebook is close to a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the charges that the world's largest social network misled users about its use of their personal information, the U.S. media reported Friday.

The proposed settlement would require Facebook to get users' consent before making "material retroactive changes" to its privacy policies, said a report from The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the talks.

The agreement with the FTC is also expected to ripple much farther in the tech industry as more companies are developing programs to observe people's online behavior and profiting from the personal information, such as the target advertisements.

With a current 800-million-user base worldwide, Facebook changed its user policy in late 2009 to disclose more of users' personal information without adequate notice, leading to a federal investigation along with mounting complaints online.

On Thursday, two U.S. representatives asked the Palo Alto, California-based company to explain a February patent application, saying that it raises alarm bells about how the company tracks users on other websites.

Outside the U.S., Facebook is also drawing criticism on its privacy policies in countries with strict privacy laws, such as Germany. On Thursday, German authorities said they are considering suing Facebook over its use of facial recognition technology.

In a PBS interview aired earlier this week, Facebook's founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company is focused on privacy, addressing that it gives users the ability to protect their privacy.

Zuckerberg said Facebook users volunteer all of their personal information on the social network, unlike other Internet giants and advertising networks that compile information "behind your back."

Source - sfgate