Campaigners have voiced their dismay at potential changes to Facebook privacy, allowing it to share data across services and stop people voting on changes to its policies and terms of service.
The changes would allow Facebook to share users’ details with its other businesses, including Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app that Facebook acquired back in April for $1 billion (£630m). The move to stop people voting has already been enforced.
Google announced something similar earlier this year, when it rolled all its privacy documents into one file and said it would share data across its businesses. It was met with a barrage of criticism, as well as investigations by European data privacy regulators.
Facebook privacy on the agenda again
Now Facebook is facing a backlash to its own announcement. In the US, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy have sent a joint letter to Facebook CEO asking him to stop the changes going through.
“These proposed changes raise privacy risks for users, may be contrary to law, and violate your previous commitments to users about site governance,” the letter read. “We urge you to withdraw the proposed changes.
“Facebook’s proposed changes implicate the user privacy and the terms of a recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement prohibits Facebook from misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy or security of covered information.”
The letter also suggested Facebook may not be taking the participation of its users seriously as it was taking away the voting mechanism.
“Facebook are lobbying the UK government to weaken new data protection laws and reduce our legal rights,” said Jim Killock, executive director of privacy advocate the Open Rights Group.
“They claim that the right to have our data back or to destroy it would be unworkable. But then Facebook go and show exactly why UK citizens need new, stronger personal data laws.”
TechWeekEurope recently revealed Facebook was lobbying hard to influence European Commission policy makers on recent proposals to shake up data privacy laws across member state. A source close to the matter said the company was putting plenty of effort into lobbying in Brussels to get officials to rethink the laws, in particular the “right to be forgotten”.
Simon Milner, director of public policy for Facebook in the UK and Ireland, said there were a number of areas where EU policy makers “hadn’t got things right”, but the “key one” was the right to be forgotten.
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