The Electronic Privacy Information Center and nine other groups file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission calling for an investigation into privacy on Facebook. The groups say Facebook's recent privacy and security changes exposed user information.
Ten privacy and consumer groups filed a complaint Dec.
17 with the Federal Trade Commission over Facebook's
recent privacy changes
and urged the agency to open an investigation.
"This is the most significant case now before the Federal Trade
Commission," Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC
said in a statement. "More than 100 million people in the United
States subscribe to the Facebook service.
The company should not be allowed to turn down the privacy dial on so many
EPIC is one of the organizations that
filed the complaint, which calls for the FTC to require Facebook
to restore previous privacy settings and seek "appropriate injunctive
and compensatory relief."
In particular, the groups take issue with the fact that the default
which Facebook refers to as "recommendations"-
at their lowest levels. The groups also criticized Facebook's
decision to allow application developers to access information deemed publicly
available, such as user names and profile photos, via the Facebook API.
officials have defended the changes
and said they worked to inform the
public about what was going on.
"We've had productive discussions with dozens of organizations around
the world about the recent changes and we're disappointed that EPIC
has chosen to share their concerns with the FTC while refusing to talk to us
about them," a Facebook spokesperson said.
"We have gone to great lengths to inform users about our platform
changes, beginning with our July announcement; founder Mark Zuckerberg's open
letter to our 350 million users; our robust press and analyst outreach; the
customization tools for users," the spokesperson continued.
Among the other groups joining EPIC in
filing the complaint are the Center for Digital Democracy and The Privacy
Rights Clearinghouse. However, despite the number of groups supporting the
complaint, opinions on the issue are divided.
"[Facebook is] trying to encourage users to share more information,"
said Berin Szoka, a senior fellow at The Progress & Freedom Foundation and
director of its Center for Internet Freedom. "Unlike EPIC
I don't think that's a bad thing, as long as they do it correctly."
"If EPIC had their way, they would
impose on everybody this mandate that 'Thou shall not share unless ... you've
checked this box and you've gone through all these careful setting
changes,'" Szoka continued. "I just think that's unwarranted because
most users aren't that concerned about sharing this information, and [for]
those that are, this solution is [a way] to empower them."