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Facebook postpones privacy changes

Updated Needs time to digest responses
Fri Mar 23 2012, 10:03

PEOPLE MARKETING OUTFIT Facebook has postponed some changes to its user privacy policy, changes that include removing the word "privacy".

The firm has explained the proposed changes to its users in posts across its geographical regions. There it explains that among other things the name of its user privacy policy will be changed from "Privacy Policy" to "Data Use Policy".

Facebook has released a PDF of the document with the tracked changes presented in red font, some of which are more cosmetic than the policy name change. It is nine pages long and is not particularly clear.

One addition that does not sound very good comes when Facebook is discussing how it complies with local laws and deals with people that are non members.

"We strive to create a global community with consistent standards for everyone, but we also strive to respect local laws. The following provisions apply to users and non-users who interact with Facebook outside the United States..." it says, with the phrase "and non-users who interact with Facebook" being the new part.

However, German officials are kicking up a fuss. "The rights of users can be further restricted," says a statement released this week by the German Independent Centre for Privacy Protection and the Hamburg Data Protection Commissioner.

The statement criticises the way Facebook released details about the policy changes. It says you had to be a fan of a Facebook governance page to even be aware of them and adds that they do not sound like they tally with European laws.

"Instead of improving information and choice, users will continue to led around by the nose," it adds.

Facebookers had seven days to respond to the changes, and respond they did. We like the German responses best. There, on the local version of the web site the majority of users repeated the same simple statement, "Ich lehne die Änderungen ab." This translates to, "I reject the changes."

The changes would have happened today, but Facebook needs some more time to consider them, according to an update to its web pages.

"The comment period for our proposed new Statement of Rights and Responsibilities is now complete. Thank you for your participation," says a note on the US version of the update page.

"We plan to review and analyze your comments over the coming days and will keep you posted on next steps."

Facebook last updated its privacy policy last April. We have asked it to comment on the postponement.

Facebook confirmed that now that the comment process is over it will consider the many responses that it received.

It also defended the changes, and the time it has given users to consider them.

"We are updating the commitments we make to users and they make to us by using our service-our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities or Terms of Use. We proposed some mostly administrative and clarifying changes (e.g. "no hateful" to "no hate speech") to this document," said a spokesperson in a statement.

"The proposed changes have been up for a week. As you know, unlike other Internet companies, we propose updates and give people an opportunity to comment before they go into effect. Now that the comment period has ended, we'll go through them and decide if we need to make any changes or answer any questions before the document is official. We'll keep you posted on next steps." µ



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