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December 18, 2012

All Your Instagrams Are Belong to Us

Posted in: Uncategorized

Does Facebook violate its FTC consent decree with Instagram's new terms of service?

Three months after they acquired Instagram, Facebook launches a completely audacious intellectual property rights grab.  Unless you delete your Instagram account by the January 16 deadline, they claim the right to license any public Instagrams uploaded after that date “without any compensation to you,” in perpetuity…and you can’t opt out.

As Declan McCullagh notes, this not only means that Facebook could sell your Hawaii travel shots without your permission.  The shining faces of your kids could also show up in advertising without your approval, as could yours if you wander into someone’s Instagram shot unbeknownst…which raises significant privacy concerns.

Since consumers are given no ability to control what happens to their photos, or block Instagram from sharing data with Facebook, this would seem to be in violation of the FTC’s privacy guidelines which states “companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom.”

The quaint, toothless FTC closed their investigation regarding privacy concerns over the Facebook-Instagram deal in August of this year.  According to EPIC’s Executive Director Marc Rotenberg, however, the new terms may be in violation of the consent decree Facebook signed with the FTC last year (PDF), and should warrant another look by the agency.

And therein lies the problem with the softball deals the FTC keeps handing out and refusing to enforce — nobody takes them seriously, and companies like Facebook and Google keep pushing the boundaries with little fear of regulatory consequence.

For those who don’t want to wait for the FTC to wake up from behind the wheel, Roberto Baldwin has a step-by-step on how to remove your photos from Instagram and delete your account.

Photo by Kaptain Kobold under Creative Commons license


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