Let Facebook Off the Hook

Ed Oswald, Technologizer

// Jun 17, 2010 7:13 am

The issue of privacy has been nagging Facebook for quite awhile now, and it looks like advocacy groups are still not happy with the company’s progress in the space. In an open letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and eight other groups are asking the site to do more.

“We are glad to see that Facebook has taken steps in the past weeks to address some of its outstanding privacy problems,” the letter begins. Among the recommendations is to give users more control over exactly which applications may access their information, as well as more control over how their information is shared with external sites.

Facebook’s “Like” button gets some of this ire, especially the site’s new offering to place it off site (which you see here on Technologizer). For those of you logged into Facebook, even if you do not click the button the site still knows you were here. While any data is anonymized after 90 days, the groups argue it should be anonymized completely if you do not interact with it at all.

“If Facebook wishes to retain aggregate or anonymized information for other purposes, as it states, it needs to make its anonymization procedure public so that its effectiveness can be evaluated,” they argue.

The issue of unencrypted data has also arisen, as any information you share is passed over the Internet which could be snooped on by hackers. The groups argue a secure connection (HTTPS) should be provided, and turned on by default. In addition, users should have full control over the information they share — essentially it seems as if these groups are arguing to make profiles completely private if that user so desires.

In defense of Facebook, I think the company has taken great strides in working on its privacy issues. Will they be perfect? Of course not. But sometimes I am led to think that some of these groups have gone overboard and are losing sight of other services whose privacy controls are far more problematic.

Source taken from: http://www.pcworld.com/article/199056/privacy_advocates_not_ready_to_let_facebook_off_the_hook.html

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