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FTC Proposes Settlement Over Facebook Privacy Violations

The FTC has apparently proposed a settlement to Facebook designed to resolve the ongoing legal battle over its alleged violations of user privacy resulting from changes to privacy settings that revealed more detail than it admitted publicly. The relatively lenient settlement would require that Facebook receive express permission from users prior to sharing any data obtained under the contentious Terms and Conditions.

Facebook's privacy-related legal woes began in 2009 when the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint alleging harm to Facebook customers due to its failure to fully disclose which information they collected, and how it was used. If the settlement is accepted, it would bring an end to its American hassles, for now at least, but the social networking giant is currently under similar investigation in the EU for privacy concerns raised by German users.

This settlement would follow on settlements recently reached with Google and Twitter and appears to indicate a policy of non-confrontation from the agency tasked with policing business conduct. However, those settlements, and the one proposed with Facebook are the result of the FTC making privacy concerns a priority. Whether that priority remains in effect with future amendments to Facebook's terms of service is unclear - the settlement does not apply to future changes to Facebook's Terms and Conditions. Such concerns may be rendered moot however, if one of several privacy bills currently proposed in the U.S. congress were to pass.