Extremely popular, particularly with teenagers, Snapchat essentially wrote privacy promise checks its users couldn’t cash. That’s the short answer. In addition to blanket statements about snaps sent the companies software had numerous “holes” that enabled tech-savvy users to layer on unauthorized apps to store “Snapchats” permanently, despite the company’s promise that Snapchats disappeared permanently shortly after receipt.
Unauthorized Use of Snapchats
For those without teenagers in the house, a “Snap” is a temporary video or picture sent via a mobile app that receivers generally can’t save locally (unless the owner gives permission to specific users or the message is made a “Life story” in Snapchat parlance). However, by using various third party applications and common screenshot features Snapchat users were able to either access unencrypted Snaps and store them permanently or simply capture the Snap image regardless of the owner’s wishes and contrary to Snapchat’s claims.
The Proposed Settlement Agreement Takeaways
Not surprisingly, a proposed FTC Agreement Containing Consent Order (a/k/a “Settlement”), subject as always to the 30 days public notice and comment period, has resulted with a mix of the usual FTC settlement suspects. Among the items in the proposed Snapchat Settlement are that:
- Snapchat implement a “comprehensive privacy program” that addresses privacy risks and protects the privacy and confidentiality of user information and among other requirements designates specific employees to be accountable for the program;
- Snapchat no longer make deceptive or misleading claims in their policies, documents or practices with regards to security and privacy; and
- Submit to, the typical for such Consent Orders, biennial assessments and reports to the FTC by an Independent Privacy Professional for the next twenty years
In future posts we will provide a “best practices primer” for Privacy Policies as well as checklist of top ten legal issues start-ups should consider, regardless of whether they are in the mobile app market or not.