TEN PRIVACY GROUPS have written to the chairman of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and asked for an assessment of Facebook's use of so-called super cookies, trackers used to follow users across the internet.
In a letter to the chairman and members of the Federal Trade Commission, they wrote that the firm's habit of keeping users logged in to its cookies, even after logging out, is a privacy and security risk to citizens.
"We would like to bring your attention to new privacy and security risks to American consumers, the secret use of persistent identifiers ("cookies") to track the Internet activity of users even after they have logged off of Facebook, and the company‟s failure to uphold representations it has made regarding its commitments to protect the privacy of its users," wrote the groups.
They continued, "Facebook's tracking of post-log-out Internet activity violates both the reasonable expectations of consumers and the company‟s own privacy statements. Although Facebook has partially fixed the problem caused by its tracking cookies, the company still places persistent identifiers on users‟ browsers that collect post-log-out data and could be used to identify users."
As well as the super cookies, Facebook's use of "Frictionless sharing" and its Timeline and Opengraph features should also be inspected, according to the groups, and the letter warned that the additions give the social networker "far greater ability to disclose the personal information of its users to its business partners than in the past". It said, "Options for users to preserve the privacy standards they have established have become confusing, impractical, and unfair."
The letter was signed by the the Electronic Privacy Information Center, The American Civil Liberties Union, The American Library Association, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, The Center for Digital Democracy, The Center for Media and Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, Privacyactivism, and Privacy Times.
They asked that the FTC consider whether the changes are consistent with consumer law, and if they are in violation of consumer protection law in the US. µ
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