The past couple weeks have been difficult for Facebook who has come under increasing pressure for various privacy related settings. On Wednesday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a formal FTC complaint against Facebook. The complaint requests that the FTC “investigate Facebook, enjoin its unfair and deceptive business practices, and require Facebook to protect the privacy of Facebook users.”
More specifically, EPIC is requesting the following of the FTC:
Compel Facebook to restore its previous privacy settings allowing users to choose whether to link and publicly disclose personal information, including name, current city, friends, employment information, educational information, and music, film, television, and literature preferences;
Compel Facebook to restore its previous requirement that developers retain user information for no more than 24 hours;
Compel Facebook to make its data collection practices clearer and more comprehensible and to give Facebook users meaningful control over personal information provided by Facebook to advertisers and developers;
The last time we covered a complaint filed by EPIC was back in 2007 which was a complaint filed in response to Facebook Beacon, a program which was eventually shut down. The organization has also singled out the “Instant Personalization” program, however they appear a bit confused about how the services function.
In addition to attacking Facebook’s opt-out default for the “Instant Personalization” program, as a number of Senators have done, EPIC is claiming that “social plugins violate user expectations and reveal user information without the user’s consent”.
Facebook provided us with the following statement regarding the new FTC complaint: “Our new features are providing beneficial new social experiences to people around the world that are transparent, consistent with user expectations, and in full compliance with legal requirements.” Additionally the company provided us with the following background information:
“—The concept of “connections” already existed on Facebook – it was the friends someone made and the Pages he or she had become a fan of. We’re currently rolling out changes to give people the opportunity to expand this idea to more parts of their profile by opting in to Pages representing activities and interests, education and work, and hometown. Any and all connections are only made at the direction of the user.
—Our notice and comment framework provide transparency for users that is unmatched by any service on the Internet.”