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Facebook offers 20-year privacy settlement to FTC

Another thing to get sorted out before the IPO

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Facebook appears to be close to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over complaints of users’ privacy being abused by the social networking giant.

According to two people familiar with the negotiations, Facebook is offering to submit to annual privacy monitoring for the next 20 years. It may also give a commitment not to share comments made in private conversations on the site with third parties, the New York Times reports.

Facebook faces an investigation from the FTC after complaints in 2009 from the Electronic Privacy Information Center and others. The firm is also under investigation from the Canadian authorities for similar issues, and the ongoing investigations forced Facebook to beef up its legal team to cope.

“This is part of the balancing act Facebook has to do,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “It also needs to settle the privacy complaints in the United States and Europe before its IPO. The real test of the F.T.C.’s Facebook deal will be whether a user actually has control over their own information, or will this be a tiny digital bump on the road that does nothing to derail Mark Zuckerberg’s voracious appetite to swallow up our data.”

A decision from the FTC on the suitability of Facebook's proposed plan is expected within the next week. ®

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