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Snapchat settles charges with US regulator over deceptive privacy policies

Under the settlement, Snapchat will be required to implement a privacy policy that will be monitored by an independent privacy professional for the next 20 years.

Image: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

SNAPCHAT has made a settlement with the US’ regulator after it found that its promise of messages disappearing forever was false.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the app maker had agreed to settle charges alleging that the company had deceived customers regarding the “disappearing nature” of messages.

It said that Snapchat made “multiple misrepresentations to consumers about its product that stood in stark contrast to how the app actually worked.”

Snapchat’s main selling point was that photos and videos are only available for a limited amount of time before disappearing forever.

However, the FCC found several ways that this could be bypassed, including using third-party apps to view and save snaps indefinitely. Also, video messages remained accessible to anyone who connected their smartphone to a computer and accessed them through the device’s file directory.

Another major concern was the amount of personal data it collected and the security measures taken to protect that data, referring in an earlier instance where 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers were left exposed after a security breach in January.

This was due to the app makers not taking the necessary security measures to protect its ‘Find Friends’ feature from a possible security breach.

Under the terms of the settlement, Snapchat won’t be fined, but it will be prohibited from misrepresenting the privacy, security or confidentiality of users’ information. It will also be required to implement a privacy policy that will be monitored by an independent privacy professional for the next 20 years.

In a statement on its site, the app makers acknowledged that it made mistakes saying “while we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have,” and it could have been “more precise” with how it communicated with users.

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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