Two Congressmen have sent a letter to Facebook requesting information about plans to share users' mobile phone and address information with developers.
Two U.S. Congressmen are
seeking answers from Facebook about the company's plans to
allow third-party developers to access users' mobile phone numbers and
to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Congressmen Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts)
and Joe Barton (R-Texas) requested information regarding the company's plans to
allow developers to access a user's mobile phone number and address
provided the user gives the thumbs up to the developer's application.
Facebook originally proposed the idea in January, but agreed to back
off temporarily after concerns
were raised that rogue developers could
abuse this situation.
"Facebook needs to protect
the personal information of its users to ensure that Facebook doesn't become
Phonebook," Markey said in a statement. "That's why I am requesting responses
to these questions to better understand Facebook's practices regarding possible
access to users' personal information by third parties. This is sensitive
data and needs
to be protected."
When it reversed its
decision last month, Facebook said it would make changes to ensure users only
share information when they intend to do so. At the time, the company argued
that the idea behind the feature was to make applications more efficient.
For example, it could have permitted users to share their address and mobile
phone number with a shopping site to streamline the checkout process, Douglas
Purdy, director of developer relations for Facebook, blogged at the time.
"As an innovative
company that is responsive to its users, we believe there is tremendous value
in giving people the freedom and control to take information they put on
Facebook with them to other Websites," Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes said.
"We enable people to share this information only after they explicitly
authorize individual applications to access it."
The company will
share the changes to the feature soon, he said.
"Facebook's popularity has
made it a leader in innovation, and we hope they will also be a leader in
privacy protection," Barton said in a statement. "The computer-especially with
sites like Facebook-is now a virtual front door to your house allowing people
access to your personal information. You deserve to look through the peep hole
and decide who you are letting in."