Two congressmen sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions about user privacy in light of the latest controversy.
Two congressmen have sent Facebook a letter with questions about privacy
in light of the recent controversy regarding applications exposing user data.
An investigation by the Wall Street Journal revealed some of the most popular applications
Facebook were exposing User IDs, the identifying numbers Facebook
assigns to users. The numbers can be used to look up a user's name as
well as any other public information on their account. The applications
reviewed by the Journal were sending Facebook IDs to at least 25
advertising and data firms, the paper reported.
In response to the incident, Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Edward
Markey, D-Mass., sent Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a list of questions
seeking more information about the situation.
"Given the number of current users, the rate at which that number
grows worldwide, and the age range of Facebook users, combined with the
amount and the nature of information these users place in Facebook's
trust, this series of breaches of consumer privacy is a cause for
concern," the lawmakers wrote.
Among the questions in the letter are what procedures does
Facebook have in place to detect and prevent third-party apps from
violating its privacy policies, and how many users were impacted. A
copy of the letter can be viewed here (PDF).
A Facebook spokesperson told eWEEK the site would work with the congressmen to answer questions they have.
"Facebook is committed to safeguarding private data while letting
people enjoy meaningful social experiences with their friends," the
connects with an application, the user ID is part of the information
that the application receives. The suggestion that the passing of
constitutes a 'breach' is curious at best."
"We also prohibit applications from transferring user data to ad
networks or data brokers, and when we receive a report that such an
improper transfer has occurred, we investigate and take action as
appropriate," he continued. "We are continually working with
developers and other responsible parties in the community to put in
place further safeguards against violations of our terms."
In an online poll
more than 1,000 people, Sophos found about 95 percent believe
Facebook should follow Apple's example and institute a strict review
policy for third-party applications on the site.
"Apple has successfully run a 'walled garden' on its iPhone App
Store, meaning that only approved apps are allowed to be run on the
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch," said Graham Cluley, senior technology
consultant a Sophos, in a statement. "Although some people may not
appreciate the level of control that Apple has over what apps you can
run on your device, it certainly has been instrumental in keeping
malicious hackers and malware off the platform."