Maryland’s Attorney General and Snapchat recently entered into an agreement to end the state’s litigation against the company. In initiating the suit, the Maryland AG had alleged that Snapchat deceived users into believing their messages, or “snaps,” would be permanently deleted after 10 seconds, when in fact several methods existed to circumvent these protections and capture, save, and distribute snaps. The AG further alleged that Snapchat collected user data (including contact information) without the permission of users and knowingly collected email addresses and photographs from children under the age of 13.
Snapchat does not admit to any of the allegations, but has agreed to pay $100,000 and provide notice and obtain consent from users before collecting address book data. Significantly, this prior permission must be separate from users’ agreement to the Terms of Service of the Snapchat application. Finally, the agreement requires Snapchat to set up a mechanism inside the application for users to report accounts believed to be used by children under 13. Snapchat previously settled similar claims brought by the FTC, as discussed in more detail in our earlier article on the case.
TIP: This case is a reminder that states are not hesitating to use standard unfairness and deception claims in privacy cases. Companies that make representations about product functionality – especially as it relates to use of personal information – should take steps to verify that those claims are accurate.