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After Canadian Prodding, Facebook To Change Privacy Policy 64

Posted by timothy
from the but-it-was-a-polite-prodding dept.
Retardical_Sam writes "Facebook has agreed to make changes to protect users' personal information on the social networking site, including the way data is accessed by third-party developers, Canada's privacy commissioner said Thursday. Canadian officials have been negotiating with Facebook since the Office of the Privacy Commissioner released a report a month ago that argued the social network breaches Canadian privacy law. Facebook agreed to make changes dealing with third-party applications like quizzes and games, deactivation of accounts, the personal identification of non-users and accounts of users who die."
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After Canadian Prodding, Facebook To Change Privacy Policy

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  • When pigs fly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Haffner (1349071)
    I'll believe it when the changes are made. Facebook really doesn't like giving your rights back.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Torodung (31985)

      Facebook really doesn't like giving your rights back.

      Especially when they have been handed over voluntarily. Jeez. It's not like they forced anyone to give up information. ;^)

      --
      Toro

      • Re:When pigs fly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RobVB (1566105) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:54PM (#29220727)
        No, but they did make people think their information would only be accessible by the friends they selected. False marketing much?
        • Re:When pigs fly (Score:4, Interesting)

          by wsanders (114993) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @04:31PM (#29223417) Homepage

          Your information will only be visible by your friends, they fixed that. Except your picture will appear in *their* spam ads for penis enlargements and credit scams.

          I don't do any Facebooks apps, and won't until their privacy settings are more fine grained than "yes" and "no".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Torodung (31985)

          Not false anything according the TOS I read when I signed up. It disclaims any and all liability as a condition of normal site use. You may as well be signing up to be a citizen of Facebook.

          You have to read the fine print. People are dumb that way, no matter how many times folks are told, everyone ignores the fine print from time to time. Some more than others.

          This includes myself. Everyone is a willing participant in their own deception once in a while. Everybody plays the fool.

          Caveat emptor is the first a

          • New laws are needed.

            New laws are apparently not needed in Canada; Facebook is making these changes because they've run afoul of the privacy laws in Canada.

            • by Torodung (31985)

              Okay, wake up call.

              New laws are needed everywhere. Data mining is out of control. We need a way for the private individual to guarantee and verify destruction of records he no longer wishes to be in another's control. The individual needs more rights of control over such records, and rights that are enforceable by take-down notices as powerful as in the DMCA, with accessible courts to arbitrate any conflicts. Facebook should be required by law to certify that they can completely destroy truly "personal" inf

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Haffner (1349071)
        Or, you know, by your friend or total strangers who take a picture of you.
        • by Torodung (31985)

          Best not let them steal your soul with those terrible black boxes then. ;^)

          Legally and ethically, the picture is theirs to do with as they please for personal, non-commercial use. If a stranger takes your picture, and you really care that much, go Shaun Penn on their a$$.

          We need new law. This photo warehousing is something new, not adequately covered by usual "control of likeness" or privacy laws.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rm999 (775449)

      I've actually found they are very sensitive to their public image regarding privacy. They overstep lines all the time, but they quickly retreat once the media, facebook groups, and petitions get involved.

      I think they realize if they ever overstep people's comfort levels, users can leave. Social network sites are a commodity - their only value is the users. If the savvy crowd jumps ship to a higher-quality site that promises better privacy, there is a chance their friends will follow. I would argue this is t

      • by RobVB (1566105)

        I would argue this is the only thing that could kill Facebook at this point, however unlikely it is.

        Yes, but a man can dream...

      • Most online "social network" sites kinda HAVE to be sensitive to their public image. People don't go visit social network websites that have a bad public image/reputation now, would they? That's just not cool...
        • Unless you market your social network to unsavory types that find your bad reputation alluring. Kind of like that guy with the motorbike in high school that got all the chicks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The way it is being reported on the TV news channels in Canada is that this is more of an informational change than a change in what facebook does (or what its third party apps do). That is, the changes from what it sounds like are more along the lines of making sure the users are better informed on where all your personal information, and that of your friends, etc is being sent, who is going to look at it and mine it and dice and slice it and use it and ... you get the picture. It doesn't sound like they a
  • Or will they wait for other countries to sue them? If so, who do I call in the US to ask them to sue?
  • by meheler (193628) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:26PM (#29220265)

    Maybe now I can finally tell them to permanently delete my account from the databases. Maybe? I hope so..

    • by hey (83763)

      I would like a way to clear all history from their database. Like the "Clear Now" button in Firefox.

      • by RobVB (1566105) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:49PM (#29220627)
        The problem is that they've allowed third party developers to access your information, so their database probably isn't the only database that has your information anymore.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by minsk (805035)

          and anything the other FB users saved, and anything their ISPs recorded, and on and on...

          Of course, storing data received from the Facebook API for extended periods is a violation of their TOS [facebook.com]. As are all the forms of redistribution [facebook.com] people are paranoid about. And the applications *still* can't get more data than they could be having the installing users run a real application which spiders the FB pages.

          So, *shrug*

    • by moon3 (1530265)
      to permanently delete my account from the databases

      There is NO WAY to be ever sure, even if you .... Facebook from orbit.
      • by Torodung (31985)

        to permanently delete my account from the databases

        There is NO WAY to be ever sure, even if you .... Facebook from orbit.

        Like, "game over" man. ;^)

        Facebook: Just like an "Alien" but without the second set of teeth.

        --
        Toro

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:33PM (#29220373) Homepage

    I like broadcasting all my personal info to all sorts of commercial interests. I like being exploited by the large faceless company.

    Joking aside, I suspect this will have very little in the way of practical change. For example, according to TFA the changes will among other things "Prevent games, quizzes and other applications developed by third parties from accessing information until it obtains express consent for each category of personal information." Most users aren't going to think hard about this and will simply click through repeatedly. People almost never bother reading warnings or paying much attention to them. Technological change can't do much to deal with a population that either doesn't understand or doesn't care how vulnerable it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by minsk (805035)

      Most users aren't going to think hard about this and will simply click through repeatedly.

      That's my suspicion. However, the ability to run applications without compromising your own privacy might encourage some of us paranoid technical folks to stop avoiding them.

      Anyone who is bothered by access from third-party applications installed by friends/network/etc either has already, or should have after the publicity, simply disabled it.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        That's my suspicion. However, the ability to run applications without compromising your own privacy might encourage some of us paranoid technical folks to stop avoiding them.

        Anyone who is bothered by access from third-party applications installed by friends/network/etc either has already, or should have after the publicity, simply disabled it.

        What about privacy of your friends? Wasn't there already a quiz by the ACLU or someone that basically said "Look, this quiz can access your profile and the profiles of

        • by minsk (805035)

          Hell, if it did that much, it's worth it, considering everyone's got one of those people on their friend list.

          That would be where this [facebook.com] bank of settings comes in.

    • by Minozake (1227554)
      Still, it is a step better. I personally would like a manifest of what all personal data an app takes. I'm just too lazy to not install it.
    • Right, but at least those of us that do care won't be subjected to the same privacy violations.

  • Nuts! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by b4upoo (166390)

    Has Canada gotten so messed up that they actually believe the dead have privacy rights? If one slanders the dead do they spin in their graves? Perhaps we should send Viagra to the dead just in case they feel an urge.

    • Re:Nuts! (Score:4, Informative)

      by RobVB (1566105) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:48PM (#29220605)
      From the news post:

      Facebook agreed to make changes dealing with [...] accounts of users who die.

      FTA:

      Facebook has specifically agreed to: [...] Clarify in its privacy policy that it will retain a user's profile after the user dies so friends can post comments and pay tribute.

      They didn't say they would protect the privacy of the dead, just that they would change the way they deal with people's profiles after they die.

    • Re:Nuts! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fractal Dice (696349) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:53PM (#29220711) Journal

      Has Canada gotten so messed up that they actually believe the dead have privacy rights?

      Why not? Copyright doesn't expire on death so why should privacy?

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        I think you just explained the whole Mickey Mouse copyrights and frozen Walt Disney rumors.

      • by youn (1516637)

        Lol I believe copy-right does expire when you die (cant reproduce)... privacy seems to expire too eventually with archeologists digging prehistoric tombs :)

      • Has Canada gotten so messed up that they actually believe the dead have privacy rights?

        Why not? Copyright doesn't expire on death so why should privacy?

        (I think you're using humour to make a point but...)

        Because copyright attaches to the work whereas privacy rights attach to the individual?

        I can't transfer my privacy rights to you so that you can exercise them instead of me, but I can transfer my copyright in something I created.

  • > Canadian officials have been negotiating with Facebook since the Office
    > of the Privacy Commissioner released a report a month ago that argued
    > the social network breaches Canadian privacy law.

    Canadian Official: Ok, then. Let the negotiations commence. Now, you're violating our law. What are you going to do or else we punish you with fines?

    Facebook: Nothing but a token slap on the wrist, or we cut off Canadians from "illegal" but popular Facebook, Mr. Official Whose Boss Ultimately Is An Ele

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Canadian elections don't have to happen for up to five years. An indication that you don't like to think deeply about answers. :) Canada constitutes about 12 million facebook users. Not huge given that they have around a quarter billion users world wide, or so it is reported here in Canada. However it is enough to make a big enough dent in their profits so that change is easier than cutting off Canada from their services. Similar to how California, while having around 37 million people out of 330 million i
  • Fair trade (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilStein (414640) <spam@@@pbp...net> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:26PM (#29221229) Homepage

    I'd happily give Facebook my name, address, social security number, and checking account information if they would only introduce a "HIDE ALL QUIZZES" feature.

    God, I am so sick of logging into Facebook only to find the feed populated with stupid quizzes like "What type of garden tool are you?" The quizzes are far more annoying than the apps.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gitcho (761501)
      Please send me your full name, address, date of birth and the email address you used to register for our Garden Tool(tm) quiz and we will happily remove you from our mailing list!
    • I'd happily give Facebook my name, address, social security number, and checking account information if they would only introduce a "HIDE ALL QUIZZES" feature.

      If you have greasemonkey, just install the facebook purity [userscripts.org] script.

      Please reply with your SIN and chequing info.

    • by centuren (106470)

      I'd happily give Facebook my name, address, social security number, and checking account information if they would only introduce a "HIDE ALL QUIZZES" feature.

      God, I am so sick of logging into Facebook only to find the feed populated with stupid quizzes like "What type of garden tool are you?" The quizzes are far more annoying than the apps.

      Check out Facebook Purity [userscripts.org]. It works with the vast majority of such things, and even tells you how many it's hidden and lets you toggle them back. I think the author page has an email address where you can send your social and checking account info if you dig it. Paired with Facebook Highlights Remove [userscripts.org], you end up with a pretty tidy home page.

  • RFID too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @04:01PM (#29222973) Homepage

    Another issue the privacy commissioner is dealing with will likely bring a smile to the /.'s here: the absolute pants security of RFID systems in travel documents.

    The problem came to a head because the DHS in the states demanded that border-crossing documents have RFID devices with biometrics in them. We used to be able to use our driver's licenses, but now we need a passport. They wanted that flexibility back, because it's so much less hassle to get a license than a passport, so the Ontario DOT agreed to add the RFID to the new driver's licenses. It's going to be phased in, but unless you want the rubber-glove treatment, you'll want one sooner rather than later.

    Everyone's been complaining about the security of these systems, but it fell on deaf ears. Until the Ontario commissioner got involved, that is. After brick-walling against the DHS she then got the Ontario DOT to issue RFID-proof wrappers with the cards. She admits they're less than ideal, thought.

    The longer term solution that she wants to implement is a portion of the card that acts as a capacitive switch, only turning on the RFID when you hold it. They'll put one on the corner of the card, with a little graphic saying "hold here while reading". When it's in your pocket the RFID will be dead, so surreptitious scanning is difficult, or impossible. I thought this was a particularly elegant solution.

  • While the privacy commissioner's office had recommended in its report that Facebook have a retention policy specifying how long it will keep information after a user has deactivated his or her account before deleting the information, the office eventually agreed to let Facebook keep the information indefinitely. Denham said Facebook's agreement to provide clarity about the issue is acceptable and in compliance with Canadian law.

    Sooooo I guess even deleting your account they still get to keep all your inform

  • Of course, noone's going to be reading this reply, since I just gave it what The New Republic declared to be the most boring headline in the world. Still. hooray. hooray for canada. *golfclap* [nytimes.com]

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