Facebook Re-Examining Its Privacy Changes; Delays Their Implementation

By David Cohen 

Responding to criticism of the changes to its data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities, announced last week, Facebook said it will delay the implementation of those changes.

The social network told the Los Angeles Times via email:

We are taking the time to ensure that user comments are reviewed and taken into consideration to determine whether further updates are necessary, and we expect to finalize the process in the coming week.

Six privacy groups — Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, Patient Privacy Rights, U.S. PIRG, and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse — sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission Wednesday expressing concerns over the use of users’ personal data in advertising, claiming that Facebook’s updated site-governance documents automatically grant the social network the rights to users’ information unless users specifically revoke those rights, adding that for users under 18, “you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.”

Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeff Chester responded to Facebook’s announcement of the delay, telling the Times:

Facebook is being forced to justify its latest grab of user data to D.C. regulators.

And Electronic Privacy Information Center Executive Director Marc Rotenberg told the newspaper:

Just about every Facebook user who has commented said the proposed changes are a really bad idea. If the company is at all serious about listening to users, it will have to back down from its plan.

Even prior to the six groups’ letter to the FTC, Facebook has been downplaying the changes to its site-governance documents, with Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan saying last week:

All we are changing is that we are providing more information and more specifics.

Readers: How will this saga end up unfolding?

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