Snapchat, a popular smartphone application, recently settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that the app misrepresented material elements of its program to the public.
Snapchat became popular for permitting users to take and send images, or “snaps,” to one another that remain visible for an amount of time allotted by the sender (no more than 10 seconds). The snaps then disappear, and the program alerts the sender if the recipient attempted to save the image—or at least that’s what Snapchat promised. The FTC filed a complaint asserting that Snapchat’s messages failed to completely disappear, a security problem allowed outside programs to preserve the image(s), and Snapchat misrepresented the amount of identifying information it collected from users’ contacts.
The FTC’s proposed consent order requires that Snapchat, among other things, establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program to address risks and protect confidential information, provide reports verifying the existence and efficacy of the privacy program, and most notably, not misrepresent the ways in which it protects users’ privacy, security, and confidential information.
Today is the last day for public comment on the consent order and then the FTC will decide whether the order should become final. If finalized, the consent order could be the driving force behind ensuring that whatever is snapped remains temporary.