Privacy Groups Urge FTC To Block Pending Facebook Privacy Changes

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Privacy Groups Urge FTC To Block Pending Facebook Privacy Changes

    WASHINGTON, DC – A coalition of six consumer privacy groups is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to enforce an earlier consent order with Facebook and block proposed changes in the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and its Data Use Policy because the proposed changes violate the 2011 settlement with the Commission.

    “The changes will allow Facebook to routinely use the images and names of Facebook users for commercial advertising without consent,” the groups said. “The changes violate Facebook’s current policies and the 2011 Facebook settlement with the FTC.  The Commission must act to enforce its order.”

    Signing the letter were Consumer Watchdog, the Electronic Privacy Information (EPIC), the Center for Digital Democracy, Patient Privacy Rights, U.S. PIRG, and Privacy Rights Clearing House.

    Read a copy of the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrfacebookftc090413.pdf

    “Facebook has long played fast and loose with users’ data and relied on complex privacy settings to confuse its users, but these proposed changes go well beyond that,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy director. “Facebook’s overreach violates the FTC Consent Order that was put in place after the last major privacy violation; if the Commission is to retain any of its credibility, it must act immediately to enforce that order.”

    The privacy groups’ letter said that the proposed changes’ “impact on minors is particularly pernicious.” In the proposed policy Facebook asserts:

    “If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.”

    “Such ‘deemed consent’ eviscerates any meaningful limits over the commercial exploitation of the images and names of young Facebook users,” the groups wrote.

    Copies of the letter were sent to the National Association of Attorneys General, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance and the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

    “We urge you to act. The right of a person to control the use of their image for commercial purposes is the cornerstone of modern privacy law,” the groups told the FTC. “Consumer privacy groups have worked diligently to preserve this right and to protect the interests of Facebook users. Now it is up to the FTC based on the Order that is already in place.”

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    John M. Simpson

    - who has written 414 posts on Inside Google.


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