In a letter, Facebook said it is considering enhancements to its privacy permissions screen to ensure users know when they are sharing their data.
In a letter to two U.S. congressmen
reaffirmed its plans to enable application developers to get
access to user phone and address information.
Facebook initially implemented the idea in January
but scuttled the change after a few days due to public outcry. At the
time, Facebook Director of Developer Relations Douglas Purdy stated
it would work on a way to "make people more clearly aware of when they
are granting access to this data."
In response to the situation
Congressmen Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts)
requested information regarding the company's plans. On Feb. 23, the
congressmen got their answer in the form of a letter from Marne Levine,
Facebook's vice president of global public policy.
"We expect that, once the feature is re-enabled, Facebook will again
permit users to authorize applications to obtain their contact
information...we are assessing potential additions to the permissions
screen that would appear when an application requests a user's contact
information, to determine whether those additions would provide even
clearer notice to users regarding the information the application is
requesting," Levine wrote.
Levine added that the company has not yet determined when or in what
manner the permission feature will be rolled out. Among other things,
the company is considering whether to prevent applications
from requesting contact information from minors.
Facebook did not respond to eWEEK's request for additional comment
before publication. However, the company has said in the past that the
idea behind the move is to make applications more efficient.
"For example, a frequently used e-commerce application or
Website is better when it has your address stored for a faster
checkout, and an airline can serve you better if it has an
always-up-to-date mobile number to reach you for last-minute itinerary
changes," a Facebook spokesperson explained in January.
Mobile phone numbers and home addresses, particularly those that can
identify teenagers using Facebook, require special protection, Markey
said in a statement.
"We must ensure that this sensitive information is safeguarded, with
clear, distinct permissions so that users know precisely what's in
store when they opt to share this data with third parties," he said.
"Moreover, simple, easily accessible tools are needed so users can
rescind these permissions if they subsequently find they no longer want
their information in the hands of third parties."