Former Facebook exec Chris Kelly, now a candidate for attorney general in California, challenged Facebook to reiterate its commitment to privacy.
Former Facebook privacy officer Chris Kelly has joined the ranks of
public officials taking Facebook to task over privacy issues.
Kelly, who is running for attorney general for California, called
for his former employer to reiterate its commitment to sharing user
information only with their prior approval.
"In my time at Facebook as Chief Privacy Officer, I saw first-hand how important it is to protect the privacy
of our users as part of our work in bringing people together," he wrote in a letter to the organization
MoveOn. "That's why, last week, I was encouraged to see Facebook respond to the significant external criticism, including mine
regarding the recent privacy problems that developed after my departure
to run for California Attorney General. Today, I remain troubled by the
news that Facebook still plans to offer only an opt-out to "instant
personalization"-meaning that users' information will be shared with
third parties without clear consent."
Kelly urged users to voice their concerns by changing their Facebook status to "Facebook: Privacy is a right
, not personal preference. Stop sharing my information without my opt-in approval" and join the Facebook group
"Facebook: Respect my privacy."
Kelly is not the first politician to call for Facebook to make changes recently. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) made headlines in late April
he requested the Federal Trade Commission set privacy guidelines for
social networks. At the moment, Kelly is in the middle of a heated
campaign for state attorney general as the date of the primary election
- June 8 - approaches.
While Facebook declined to respond directly to Kelly's comments,
spokesperson Andrew Noyes said the company has made it easier for
people to turn off the instant personalization feature and prevent
applications in the program from accessing their information.
"It is important to note that the program involves three
well-respected partners - Microsoft, Pandora and Yelp - each of whom
were already required to adhere to strict limitations on the use of
data," Noyes said. "They were also already required to offer an easy
and prominent method for users to opt out directly from their Websites
and delete data of users that choose to opt out...we introduced a way to
completely switch off all third-party applications and Websites so that
users' information is not shared. The early reaction to these changes
from users around the world and the community of privacy and consumer
groups has been overwhelmingly positive."
While no policy can negate the need for personal responsibility
about what one posts, companies in both the offline and digital
worlds must respect customer privacy, Kelly added.
"More sharing in the world is a good thing-it allows for the
building of deeper bonds of community and social and political
progress," Kelly wrote. "But strong privacy protections are a must for
any Internet site like Facebook, because users have a right to protect
their privacy. User privacy won't be fully secure until Facebook
recommits to letting users choose about third-party sharing."