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privacy rights blog

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MZ Congressional Testimony - 2011 FTC Consent Decree Compromised

Back in 2011, Facebook was issued a 20-year consent decree by the Federal Trade Commission.  The decree resulted from a number of practices Facebook engaged in that the FTC determined were unfair and deceptive.  One such practice was making users private information public without sufficient prior consent.  Another practice was enabling developers to access excessive information about users and their friends.

During the Congressional questioning, it was a clear concern that even though Facebook has the capability to audit developers use of Facebook user data, Facebook did not do so sufficiently as the recent events related to Cambridge Analytica revealed.  Even with the Consent Decree, Facebook did not or could not comply with it.  The perception is that Facebook generally ignored its internal processes and regulatory oversight when it suited them.  The implication was that Facebook should be more concerned with ensuring the security of FB user data as a number one priority.  The trust gap between Facebook and its users is now very alarming.

Congress then noted that the only way to close the trust gap is through legislation and an oversight agency with rule making authority in order to protect digital privacy and ensure companies protect its users' data.  It is not that hard to predict what the bills that will be introduced will entail,; strict regulations for tech companies regarding user privacy.