The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged social networking site MySpace with violating federal law by sharing users' personal information and web browsing habits with third parties.
But advertising companies that were allowed to track MySpace users' browsing will not be charged, according to the New York Times, highlighting a lack of laws around online privacy.
The FTC said that from January 2009 to June 2010 and from October 2010 to October 2011, MySpace transmitted information, including users' ages and genders, to external advertising networks.
Using that information, the FTC said third parties could obtain users’ names and other personal information and view a history of web sites users had visited.
The company cannot be penalised by the FTC for past violations, but could face a $16,000 civil fine for any future violation.
The agreement with MySpace is similar to one the FTC reached with Facebook in November over its sharing of users’ information with advertisers and making public information that it had said would be kept private.
The FTC settled a similar privacy case with Google over its Google Buzz network last year, but is now investigating whether Google violated that agreement when it reportedly circumvented privacy controls on Apple’s Safari browser.