FTC Fines Snapchat For Being Loosey-Goosey With Data

app disclosure legalities
Snapchat and the FTC had a disagreement over proper disclosures.

Snapchat, a messaging app for mobile devices, entered into a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission for supposedly misleading users about data collection and inter-device privacy. The FTC won. You can avoid the same outcome by making sure your apps and websites have the proper legal disclosures.

Reminder: The Internet is not as lawless as it used to be.

Snapchat — the app that deletes user messages, photos, and videos within seconds of being opened — was an instant success. But the FTC claims that Snapchat failed to inform said users that other people can save their snaps — perhaps the exact opposite of what people expected.

Why Did The FTC Go After Snapchat? (Answer: Playing Fast and Loose With Customer Data Without Proper Disclosures)

iOS7 Bug

Although users are able to take screenshots of a “snap,” the user who sent the message are supposed to be notified of this. Snapchat backed up this claim, but the Federal Trade Commission reported that recipients with Apple devices running iOS 7 can exploit the app to avoid screenshot detection. Considering iOS 7 launched last summer, this has been an ongoing issue.

Encryption Issue

The FTC also reported that Snapchat stores videos on recipients’ devices without encryption, meaning the videos can be accessed even after “disappearing” on the Snapchat application.

Successful Hacker Breach

On top of all that, Snapchat reportedly failed to secure their users’ information. In January, hackers got a hold of over 4.6 snapchat profiles and snagged a whole lot of valuable consumer data. To make matters more complicated for the app company, before the breach, security experts warned Snapchat that the application could be exploited, but the company, allegedly, did little about it.

Android Issue

iOS users weren’t the only affected people. Android Snapchaters’ locations were also transmitted to the Snapchat servers, even though the company claimed it didn’t collect any information from users.

Snapchat Got The Same “Sweetheart” Punishment As Facebook Did For Beacon

Like Facebook before them, part of Snapchat’s FTC agreement requires the app company to implement a 20-year privacy monitoring program, which will be overseen by an external privacy expert.
The FTC warned Snapchat that violation of the agreement will result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000 for each offense. Snapchat has since fixed the alleged issues, reporting that “we continue to invest heavily in security and countermeasures to prevent abuse.”

FTC Unfair and Deceptive Marketing Lawyer

If you or your company is in trouble with the FTC, and you’re in need of legal counsel, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. Founding partner Aaron Kelly has worked on many, many FTC cases. His track record is great and he knows the best approach to take when dealing with FTC-related lawsuits.

Get in touch today to learn more about your legal options.

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