Govt fines technology company on privacy claims
"This settlement with Path shows that no matter what new technologies emerge, the agency will continue to safeguard the privacy of Americans," said outgoing FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who on Friday formally announced plans to leave the agency.
Path, founded by Morin, an ex-Facebook employee, calls itself a "personal network." It lets users of Apple and Android cellphones create personal journals and share photos, videos and updates with a smaller group of friends than on Facebook. The app has been popular with children.
The fines assessed against Path were for violating the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits companies from accessing information from children under 13 without a parent's consent.
Leibowitz described rapid developments in cellphones as "a Wild West of sorts," presenting unique challenges for government watchdogs. Customers worldwide bought about 217 million smartphones in the last three months of 2012.
The FTC says consumers using smartphones have become more concerned about privacy. About 57 percent of all app users have either uninstalled an app or declined to install one over concerns about having to share personal information. Less than a third of Americans believe they are "in control" of personal data on their mobile devices, the FTC report found.
"All of this can leave us wondering whether and how our private interests are being protected," Leibowitz said.
The FTC recommended that operating system providers and app developers develop icons that show data being transmitted from cellphones. It also recommended a one-stop "dashboard" that would let consumers review the types of content that apps can access.
Follow Sam Hananel on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SamHananelAP
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