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EPIC Files FTC Complaint Over Facebook's New Privacy Policy 103

An anonymous reader writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) today filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate the recent changes made by Facebook to the privacy settings of Facebook users. The complaint discusses the sharing of user information with third-party developers and the new, widely-opposed 'Everyone' setting, which allows certain user information, such as name, profile picture, and friends lists, to be publicly available. EPIC also urges the FTC to compel Facebook to restore privacy safeguards. The complaint was signed by nine privacy and consumer organizations."
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EPIC Files FTC Complaint Over Facebook's New Privacy Policy

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  • Re:Oh teh Noes! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dlanod ( 979538 ) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @05:58PM (#30479916)

    I honestly don't get why third parties would be getting involved in it. Sure, the privacy settings might not be to everyone's wishes but third parties complaining to the government to get them to interfere is just layering stupidity on top of stupidity.

  • by valderost ( 668593 ) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @06:51PM (#30480696) Journal

    On the whole, we're still in the middle of a huge transition in the ways we communicate with each other, and the degrees to which we trust third parties with information that rightfully belongs to us. Facebook is no more accountable to its users than any other service; and no matter how much we might bitch and moan about changes in their privacy policies, the fact is that they are going to use our information in as many ways as they can to make money. Sharing information directly with third parties is the most obvious, but there are plenty of indirect means.

    Now that we can't hide ourselves, we're bound to attract more friends. Every one of those relationships is a potential revenue stream, either directly or indirectly. Folks at MIT recently demonstrated that they can determine to a high probability who on Facebook is gay without knowing anything about them except their friends. I'm sure the same technique applies to religion, various types of hobbies, and a number of other things we don't always give as much thought to, like criminals, terrorists and the like. These affiliations and attributes have to be a gold mine for someone, and the policy changes are a new mother lode.

    I'm glad that EPIC, FTC, etc., are interested in our privacy, as they can exert pressure to change things in ways that we as users cannot. What I'd really like to see out of all this might be some kind of formal privacy impact review before changes to social networking policies are made. Any change that degrades privacy would need to be identified by third parties, justified or mitigated by the social network, then reviewed again until it's clear that users will be better off after the change than they were before. I think that expecting users to flee a service following troublesome changes is unrealistic. The users are caught between a rock and a hard place, and Facebook will continue twisting their arms as long as the users are paying more attention to their friends and apps than they are to their privacy.

    It will be sad, yet very interesting at the same time, to see what happens when lost privacy demonstrably results in crimes of various sorts. Facebook may find that its greed has a higher human price than it might ever have realized.

  • Re:Oh teh Noes! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Requiem18th ( 742389 ) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @06:53PM (#30480708)

    Because, let's be honest, people are too stupid for their own good.

    Most people couldn't foresee this move (of course many /.ers did) so we have to sue and regulate on their behalf. Maybe they shouldn't even be allowed to vote, voting should require an IQ test, and a proficiency test in politics and public matters, throw in commerce too.

    Or maybe not, I'm exaggerating, but really, what is the logic in not letting people smoke whatever they want but allowing them to sell their life in facebook? On many states prostitution and gambling are banned, adulthood for drinking and sex is based on an arbitrary number with no analysis supporting it and we don't even let people build their homes however they want, we don't even let people eat wherever they want regardless of the hygiene of the places they go.

    But not on facebook, on facebook we are to believe every user is intelligent, informed and fully aware of the consequences of their actions.

  • by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @10:08PM (#30482612)

    True enough but I think there is also a lot of needless hype going on. They tweaked a few previously protected settings so that they went from private to public, for this they should get a slap upside the head, but it's not like you can't hide it all again. You can still lock down your profile just as much as you ever could.

  • Re:Oh teh Noes! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @10:36PM (#30482844) Homepage Journal

    nothing should prevent clients to get into the kitchen and asses for themselves the quality of the food

    Keep your dirty, coughing, sneezing, unwashed masses out of the kitchens, you biohazard.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982