World
Social media settlements with the FTC on privacy breach
Almost every big player in the social media has settled with the FTC at some point over privacy issues, and most agreed to halt misrepresenting privacy protection and to establish a privacy program for 20 years
 
Snapchat settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week over charges that it deceived users when it advertised that photos would “disappear forever.” Clever Snapchatters were able to save pictures with workarounds, many of which Snapchat itself knew about, claimed the FTC. It also charged that the company misleadingly promised it did not track or access a user’s location specific information and that it collected information, without initially informing users, on all the contacts in the user’s mobile device address book. 
 
Under terms of the settlement, Snapchat is barred from misrepresenting the extent to which it protects privacy, and it must establish a privacy program that will be monitored by a third party for 20 years.
But the photo-sharing app’s settlement isn’t the first by a social media company, and if the settlement terms sounds familiar, it’s because they are. Almost every big player in the social media world has settled with the FTC at some point over privacy issues, and most agreed to halt misrepresenting privacy protection and to establish a privacy program for 20 years. Here’s five social media companies who have also settled with the FTC.
 
1. Myspace 
The deed: The FTC charged that Myspace was providing advertisers information on its users despite pledging to users not to share personally identifiable information. The company gave advertisers access to users Myspace ID, which often allowed advertisers to match Myspace navigation (what users were looking at on the site) with their full names. The sides settled in 2012.
 
The punishment: Myspace is barred from making privacy misrepresentations, had to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and submit to regular, independent privacy assessments for 20 years.
 
2. Twitter 
The deed: The FTC charged that Twitter — despite its privacy policy stating otherwise –did not properly safeguard its users’ data and put their privacy at risk. The FTC’s complaint alleged that hackers were twice able to gain administrative control over the website and access all its users’ data. The sides settled in 2011.
 
The punishment: Twitter is barred from misleading consumers about the extent of its privacy safeguards for 20 years. It also had to maintain a comprehensive security program assessed by an independent auditor for ten years.
 
3. Google 
The deed: The FTC charged that Google had tracked users of Apple’s Safari browser with cookies, despite telling users they would be protected by the browser’s default settings. According to the complaint, Google circumvented the do-not-track setting to target users with ads. The sides settled in 2012
 
The penalty: A big one — Google agreed to pay a $22.5 million fine for violating a previous settlement with the FTC. In 2011, Google had agreed to the standard “stop making misrepresentations and implement a privacy program for 20 years” plan for alleged privacy violations in the rollout of its Google Buzz social network. Because Google had violated a previous settlement, it agreed to the record fine.
 
4. Facebook 
The deed: The FTC charged that Facebook had repeatedly told users they could keep their information private on Facebook, only to repeatedly make it public without users’ consent. The sides settled in 2012.
 
The penalty: Facebook must give its users notice before sharing their information, and obtain consent before sharing the information beyond their privacy settings. Facebook also must maintain a privacy program and obtain biennial privacy audits from a third party for … drumroll … 20 years. Facebook continues to face criticism from consumer advocates that it is violating the FTC order because of recent privacy changes it has made as a result of a class-action lawsuit. 
 
5. Path 
The deed: Path’s privacy policy told users that its app only collected certain user information, such as IP address and browser type. But the FTC charged that Path was really collecting information about the contacts in users’ address books — including names, addresses, phone numbers, email address, Facebook and Twitter account info, and dates of birth — every time users downloaded or opened the app. Path also allegedly collected information about children under 13 without getting their parents’ permission. The sides settled in 2013.
 
The penalty: Path agreed to pay $800,000 to settle the charges that it collected information on children. It also agreed to establish a privacy program and obtain privacy assessments every two years for the next 20 years. 
 

User

What if NOTA, the 'virtual candidate' wins?
In Tamil Nadu's 25 out of 27 constituencies, whose details are available, only three to six candidates have scored more votes than NOTA or none of the above option
 
Electors can reject all the candidates by pressing a button marked 'None of the Above' (NOTA) in Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). This was introduced for the first time in the recent Loksabha elections after a Supreme Court judgement
 
Like many others, I wondered if people would use this option or abstain from voting when they do not trust any candidate. I also suspected that very few voters would know about and understand this option. Pleasantly, I am wrong!
 
So far only Tamil Nadu has published Form-20, that too only for 27 out of 39 parliamentary constituencies. Count of NOTA in these constituencies ranges between 4,150 and 46,559; 0.42% to 5% of the total votes polled. The graph below shows the counts of NOTA in different ranges:
 
In 25 out of 27 constituencies, 0.5 to 2% of the total votes polled are NOTA. In Nilgiris, from where  A Raja of the 2G spectrum scam contested, 5% of the voters (46,559) have chosen NOTA. This is a significant number. Here, only the winning candidate and the runner-up have got more votes than NOTA. In other constituencies, irrespective of the number of candidates, which varied from eight to 38 in a constituency, only three, four, five, or six candidates have scored more than NOTA. People have clearly rejected the candidates rather than voting undeserving.
 
In the coming elections more people may choose NOTA. Winning margins in Tamil Nadu have been huge in most of the constituencies and NOTA count is not anywhere close to the winning margin. This may not be the case in other states. This may not be the case in future elections.
 
The Election Commission of India (ECI) does not have a policy on actions based on such data. When large numbers of citizens reject all the candidates, and if that is not actionable information, meaning of the option dilutes. By exercising such option in the first opportunity, voters have sent a message to the aspirant politicians and the ECI. We hope for some action from the ECI.
 
NOTA is a virtual candidate. If this candidate wins, we certainly need a new election because NOTA cannot physically represent the people. For social scientists, it would be relevant to study why such virtual candidates score much higher than most of the real candidates in the field. For example, in Nilgiris, NOTA was third, polling significant 5% of votes. Citizens are conveying something. If we listen and act, we will improve the democratic process and social stability. 
 
(Commander (Retd) PG Bhatt is a retired naval officer, an educationist and a social worker.)

User

COMMENTS

Dr Paresh Vaidya

3 years ago

Of all the constituencies, exactly the one with Mr A Raja has the highest NOTA vote share of
5% clearly gives the message. NOTA opponents should agree that people are serious about NOTA.

DAVINDRA SINGH

3 years ago

NOTA signifies a rejection value. Hence it deserves to have a value of one negative vote =[-1].
THUS +ve votes scored by every contestant should be deducted by the count of NOTA votes in that constitueny to arrive at the NET POSITIVE SCORE of every candidate.

Net Vote [ Vn = Vp - Vnota ]

This tells that -

* forefietedness of "deposits" should be decided on the basis of net vote "Vn".
* if Vn = -ve, it will make the ellection "Null & void".
* Means :- Fresh "Re-ellection" not simply "Repoll".
* Means :- "Re-nomination(s)" of present contestant(s) is/are already rejected.
* Means :- All contestants put under ban to re-contest.
* Means :- Fresh nominations for fresh re-election.
* Means :- Political parties must also be penalizes for the financial burden imposed for such re-election.
* Means :- Pol-Parties will be discouraged against nominating undeserving candidates.
* Means :- Political improvement

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