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Privacy groups ask Facebook to halt privacy policy changes

Zuckerberg asked to change his mind
Tue Nov 27 2012, 09:43

TWO PRIVACY GROUPS have written to social network Facebook and asked it to rethink some proposed changes.

The changes saw it announce that it is thinking dropping a system whereby its users have a say in privacy policies and share user information with affiliate applications like Instagram.

"We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period but have found that the voting mechanism created a system that incentivised quantity of comments over the quality of them.

"We're proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement," said Facebook communications chief Elliot Schrage.

"In the coming weeks, we will roll out new ways of responding to your questions and comments about Facebook."

This was not well received, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy, have written a joint letter to Mark Zuckerberg (PDF) to ask him and his social network to reconsider the changes.

They said that the proposals could impact users' privacy and might be against the law, and as a result they should be halted.

"Because these proposed changes raise privacy risks for users, may be contrary to law, and violate your previous commitments to users about site governance, we urge you to withdraw the proposed changes," said the letter.

"Facebook's proposed changes implicate the user privacy and the terms of a recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement prohibits Facebook from misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy or security of covered information."

Facebook has around a billion users and the privacy groups accused it of not respecting their wishes.

"Scrapping the [voting] mechanism altogether raises questions about Facebook's willingness to take seriously the participation of Facebook users," they said.

"We ask that Facebook be similarly responsive to the rights of Facebook users to control their personal information and to participate in the governance of Facebook. We ask that you withdraw the proposed changes to the Data Use Policy and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."

While the letter is addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, a number of other people have been sent copies. These include the chairman and four commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission, four US Senators and the president of the National Association of Attorneys General. µ


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