Few Privacy Regulations Inhibit Facebook - Laws haven't kept up with the company's ability to mine its users' data
Posted in: Legal, Privacy & Security at 14/06/2012 15:12
Now that it's a public company, Facebook needs to significantly boost its revenues to bring them in line with shareholders' expectations. That means finding new uses for the endless amounts of personal data the company collects from its users -- but this prospect concerns privacy advocates, who say Facebook has outgrown existing privacy laws. Although regulators around the globe are increasing their scrutiny of Facebook, it might be years before they catch up.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, for example, will subject Facebook to 20 years of regular privacy audits after settling charges last year that the company engaged in "unfair and deceptive practices" such as misleading people about whether information they disclosed on the site would stay private. The FTC has a mandate to protect consumers from false advertising, but its ability to restrain Facebook is limited because current U.S. privacy laws are decades old. They're written to shield medical and financial information, even motor vehicle and movie rental records, but they don't address many practices common online today, such as compiling profiles of online behavior to target ads.