MySpace Sentenced To 20 Years Of Government Security For Privacy Violations

MySpace's cult following has dwindled down in recent years, but at least they can count on one keen follower - the Federal Trade Commission.

For the next 20 years, MySpace will be under the watchful eye of the feds after the social networking service was accused of sharing users' personal data with advertisers, without disclosing this with the users.

Instead of opposing the charges, MySpace has decided to settle - where according to the site's owner, Specific Media, its reason for settling was made "in order to put any questions regarding Myspace's pre-acquisition advertising practices behind us."

Issuing a unique "Friend ID" to its users after requesting personal data such as age, gender, interests etc, MySpace's privacy policy stated that the site would not share such sensitive information - but if the company chose to do so, would first seek the approval of its users.

However, FTC saw a different scenario - with MySpace violating these terms by providing advertisers with the Friends IDs of users viewing certain pages on the site:

"Despite the promises contained in its privacy policy, the FTC charged, Myspace provided advertisers with the Friend ID of users who were viewing particular pages on the site. Advertisers could use the Friend ID to locate a user's Myspace profile to obtain personal information publicly available on the profile and, in most instances, the user's full name. Advertisers also could combine the user's real name and other personal information with additional information to link broader web-browsing activity to a specific individual. The agency charged that the deceptive statements in its privacy policy violated federal law."

MySpace has since been ordered to set up and maintain a privacy scheme whereby the company will be subjected to regular privacy reviews by a "qualified, objective, independent third-party professional" every two years - for the next 20 years.

That is, if MySpace will even be around in the next 20 years.

Source: VentureBeat

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