30 Nov 2011
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Facebook facing 20 years of privacy audits

Mark Zuckerberg has posted a contrite statement on the Facebook blog after the company received a slap on the wrist from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for its questionable privacy policies.

In the statement, the founder of the social network says he thinks Facebook has a good history overall, but admits ‘we’ve made a bunch of mistakes’.

"In particular, I think that a small number of high-profile mistakes, like Beacon four years ago and poor execution as we transitioned our privacy model two years ago, have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done,” Zuckerberg says.

THE FTC’s settlement has specified five regulations Facebook must follow in the future, with the network now:

- Barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information;

- Required to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences;

- Required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material no more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;

- Required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information;

- Required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.

If any of these regulations is violated, Facebook faces a fine of US$16,000 per violation per day.

In response, Zuckerberg announced the appointment of two new chief privacy officers, Erin Egan for policy and Michael Richter for products. 

”These two positions will further strengthen the processes that ensure that privacy control is built into our products and policies,” Zuckerberg says.

"I’m proud to have two such strong individuals with so much privacy expertise serving in these roles.”

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