Hey Feds, Facebook Still Wants Phonebook

Facebook still plans to resume sharing of people's phone numbers and addresses, but hasn't decided when or how to do it, according to the company's latest response to the co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional Privacy Caucus.

Facebook still plans to reinstate the sharing of people’s phone numbers and addresses, but hasn’t decided when or how to do it.

So says the company’s formal response to the co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional Privacy Caucus’ 11 queries about oversharing user information on the social network.

Facebook’s Vice President of Global Public Policy Marne Levine wrote a seven-page letter dated February 23, showing that it’s not a matter of whether but when and how the company will resume sharing addresses and phone numbers with third-party developers:

We have not yet decided when or in what manner we will re-deploy the permission for mobile numbers and addresses. As noted above, we are evaluating whether and how we can increase the visibility of applications’ requests for permission to access user contact information. We are also considering whether additional user education would be helpful.

Kindly add us to the list of people who need education about the need to share our contact information with third-party developers. However, we feel hopeful about some of the things that Facebook included in its response to Congressmen Edward J. Markey and Joe Barton: The company will allow site members to opt-out of having information shared — we wonder whether the social network will make the opt-out option as prominent as it ought to be.

We can only hope that Facebook can come through on the statement about how it’s “currently considering enhancements to the permission screen that would highlight for users when they are being asked for permission to share their contact information.” Levine said that the company can’t share further details about this right now — so how long will it take for any of that information to become public?

What do you think about Facebook’s latest response to the co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional Privacy Caucus?