Facebook To Feds: Leave Room For Innovation

By Jackie Cohen Comment

Regulation of consumer privacy online needs to allow for future innovations.

That’s the gist of Facebook’s formal response to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commissions’s proposals to protecting consumer privacy online.

Facebook Chief Privacy Counsel Michael Richter submitted the 14-page legal treatise this past week. The social network officially agrees with suggestions by the federal agencies, claiming that the site already embraces the best practices outlined by the FTC and Commerce Department.

Facebook lets people opt out of targeted advertising schemes in the privacy settings; the social network has also cracked down on third-party data brokers, and at least temporarily stopped sharing individual members’ addresses and mobile phone numbers with third-party developers. Contradicting the latter, is a recently introduced prompt asking users to post publicly what city they live in.

Granted, all of these requests for personal information ask for users’ permission, which is much more compliant with the feds’ privacy suggestions than what one sees in other targeted advertising platforms online. Facebook’s suggestions seem pretty reasonable, so hopefully the federal agencies will heed the social network’s advice:

Facebook believes that a framework must be informed by: (1) the importance of ensuring that privacy protections benefit, rather than frustrate, users’ needs and expectations in the particular contexts in which they are implemented, and (2) the need for any privacy framework to promote rather than stifle the innovation that has been so essential to our economy.

Do you think the U.S. needs to enact additional legislation to protect consumers’ privacy online?