FTC says Snapchat deceived customers - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

FTC says Snapchat deceived customers

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK (AP) - Snapchat has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it deceived customers about the disappearing nature of messages sent through its service and that it collected users' contacts without telling them or asking permission.

Snapchat is a popular mobile messaging app that lets people send photos, videos and messages that disappear in a few seconds. But the FTC said Snapchat misled users about its data collection methods and failed to tell users that others could save their messages without their knowledge.

Snapchat agreed to settle without admitting or denying any wrongdoing and the company said it has addressed many of the issues the FTC raised.

As part of the settlement, Snapchat must implement a privacy program that will be monitored by an outside privacy expert for the next 20 years. The arrangement is similar to privacy settlements that Google, Facebook and Myspace have agreed to in recent years.

Although Snapchat said its app notified users when a recipient takes a screenshot of a "snap" they've sent, the FTC said recipients with an Apple device that runs an operating system that predates iOS 7 could evade the app's screenshot detection. Apple's iOS7 launched last summer.

In addition, the FTC said Snapchat's app stored video snaps that were not encrypted on the recipient's device. The videos remained accessible to the recipient, the agency said. A user could access a video message, even after it supposedly disappeared, if the user simply connected the phone to a computer and accessed the video in the device's file directory.

The FTC complaint also alleges that Snapchat failed to secure its "find friends" feature. A security breach in January allowed hackers to collect the usernames and phone numbers of some 4.6 million Snapchat users. The breach occurred after security experts warned the company at least twice about a vulnerability in its system. Snapchat later issued an update to its app that fixed the issue and allowed users to opt out of the "find friends" feature.

Snapchat's Android app also transmitted users' location information, the FTC said, even though the company told users it didn't collect such information.

The settlement doesn't have a financial component, but if Snapchat is found to violate the agreement, the company could end up paying a civil penalty of up to $16,000 for each violation. The Los Angeles startup reportedly turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook last fall.

In a blog post Thursday, Snapchat said that when its app was being created, "some things didn't get the attention they could have."

"One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community," the company said in the post.

Snapchat, however, said it has since fixed the problems.

"Even before today's consent decree was announced, we had resolved most of those concerns over the past year by improving the wording of our privacy policy, app description, and in-app just-in-time notifications," the company said. "And we continue to invest heavily in security and countermeasures to prevent abuse."

The settlement will be formally approved in 30 days once a public comment period ends.

  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • MH17 remains return home as govt battles fallout

    MH17 remains return home as govt battles fallout

    Friday, August 22 2014 1:45 AM EDT2014-08-22 05:45:09 GMT
    Carried by soldiers and draped in the national flag, coffins carrying Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 returned home Friday to a country still searching for those onboard another doomed jet and a government...[more]
    Carried by soldiers and draped in the national flag, coffins carrying Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 returned home Friday to a country still searching for those onboard another doomed jet and a government battling the...[more]
  • Gov. Nixon taking National Guard out of Ferguson

    Gov. Nixon taking National Guard out of Ferguson

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-08-22 03:44:52 GMT
    It's been a quieter night in Ferguson, Missouri. Some demonstrators returned to the streets Wednesday evening to protest the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white officer, but in diminished numbers.[more]
    Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday ordered the Missouri National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson, where nightly scenes of unrest have erupted since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old nearly...[more]
  • Malaysia receives bodies from Flight 17 crash

    Malaysia receives bodies from Flight 17 crash

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:34 PM EDT2014-08-22 03:34:23 GMT
    Malaysia is preparing to receive the bodies and ashes of 20 of its citizens killed when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July.[more]
    The bodies and ashes of 20 Malaysians killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July arrived home on Friday, the first day of national mourning in the country's history.[more]
  • Stay Connected

  • Like Us on Facebook
  • Follow Us on Twitter
Powered by WorldNow

WHDH TV 7NBC WLVI TV CW56
Sunbeam Television Corp
7 Bulfinch Place
Boston, MA 02114

News Tips: (800) 280-TIPS
Tell Hank: (855) 247-HANK
Corporate Media Services: (800) 642-1551

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WHDH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.