Messaging app Snapchat promised users that the photos and videos they send disappear seconds after they’re opened. But security and privacy advocates have repeatedly reported that’s not always true.
On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission announced that the smartphone app maker has agreed to settle charges alleging that the company had deceived consumers with assurances about the “disappearing nature” of messages sent through the service and other data collection and security practices.
The FTC complaint laid out several ways that photo “snaps” sent through the application could be saved without the users’ knowledge. For example, some third-party apps could be used to capture messages sent through the service, the FTC said, and video messages remained accessible to recipients who connected their smartphone to a computer.
The FTC also alleged the app collected data from users without their consent or knowledge — including geolocation information from those using the Android version of the app and contacts from the address books of those using the Apple iOS version.
Under the terms of its settlement, Snapchat will not be fined. But it will be prohibited from misrepresenting the privacy, security or confidentiality of user data within the app and be required to implement a comprehensive privacy program to be monitored by an independent party over the next 20 years. If Snapchat violates the settlement in the future, it could face financial penalties.
Although the consent decree did not require Snapchat to admit fault, the app maker acknowledged in a statement that it had made mistakes. “While we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have,” the statement said, noting that Snapchat should have been “more precise” in how it communicated with users.
— Andrea Peterson
A Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture that launches satellites for the U.S. military won an end to a ban on buying Russian rocket engines when a federal judge said she was satisfied that the purchases don’t violate sanctions on Russia imposed over its annexation of Crimea.
U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden lifted the temporary ban Thursday, sidelining an issue raised in an April 28 lawsuit by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies. The company claimed the Air Force illegally shut the company out of its launch business.
While SpaceX didn’t ask Braden to block purchases of the Russian rockets, its court filings highlighted links between rocket-engine maker NPO Energomash and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who heads the country’s defense and space industries and is subject to U.S. sanctions.
Braden, who brought up the sanctions issue, asked for the opinions of the Treasury, State and Commerce departments regarding the rocket sales. The Treasury Department’s sanctions unit said transactions with NPO Energomash “currently do not directly or indirectly contravene” sanctions against Rogozin.
The Justice Department and the Boeing-Lockheed Martin Corp. joint venture, called United Launch Alliance, asked Braden to lift the injunction.
The information Braden received makes clear that the relationship “complies with the sanctions against Russia,” Jessica Rye, a spokeswoman for ULA, said in an e-mailed statement. Emily Shanklin, a SpaceX spokeswoman, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
— Bloomberg News
● Apple is orchestrating a $3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker and music-streaming distributor founded by hip-hop star Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine, according to a published report. Citing unnamed people familiar with the negotiations, the Financial Times said Apple could announce the deal as early as next week. The report warned that the talks could still collapse if the two sides can’t agree on some details. Both Apple and Beats Electronics declined to comment.
● Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the company that will be formed from the combination of Fiat and Chrysler Group, will be based in London, chief executive Sergio Marchionne said. “The board, my office and some of my functions need to operate out of London,” Marchionne said. “That doesn’t mean that I’ll give up operational responsibilities in the U.S.” Fiat, which bought full control of Chrysler in January, had said it will have its main stock listing in New York and will be registered in the Netherlands with a fiscal domicile in Britain for tax purposes. Marchionne hadn’t commented previously about a specific city for the headquarters.
● LightSquared can’t exit bankruptcy under a plan designed by controlling shareholder Philip Falcone, a judge said, calling it a “sophisticated shell game” that was unfair to the firm’s one-time suitor, Dish Network Chairman Charles Ergen. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman gave the parties until May 27 to come up with a new plan before she imposes a mediator. LightSquared had sought to put Ergen’s $1 billion debt claim behind those of other creditors as it reorganized with $2.5 billion in financing.
— From news services
● 10 a.m.: Wholesale trade inventories for March.