Privacy groups ask Facebook to withdraw proposed policy changes

Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:27pm EST
 

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two privacy advocacy groups urged Facebook Inc on Monday to withdraw proposed changes to its terms of service that would allow the company to share user data with recently acquired photo-application Instagram, eliminate a user voting system and loosen email restrictions within the social network.

The changes, which Facebook unveiled on Wednesday, raise privacy risks for users and violate the company's previous commitments to its roughly 1 billion members, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy.

"Facebook's proposed changes implicate the user privacy and terms of a recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission," the groups said in a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg that was published on their websites on Monday.

By sharing information with Instagram, the letter said, Facebook could combine user profiles, ending its practice of keeping user information on the two services separate.

Facebook declined to comment on the letter.

In April, Facebook settled privacy charges with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it had deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than they intended. Under the settlement, Facebook is required to get user consent for certain changes to its privacy settings and is subject to 20 years of independent audits.

Facebook, Google and other online companies have faced increasing scrutiny and enforcement from privacy regulators as consumers entrust ever-increasing amounts of information about their personal lives to Web services.

Facebook unveiled a variety of proposed changes to its terms of service and data use polices on Wednesday, including a move to scrap a 4-year old process that can allow the social network's roughly 1 billion users to vote on changes to its policies.   Continued...

 
A Facebook page is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge