Sen. Rockefeller Talks Privacy With Mark Zuckerberg

In town for immigration reform, Facebook chief blindsided by privacy questions

Mark Zuckerberg was in Washington to push immigration reform, but when he got to the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), he was confronted with questions about Facebook's privacy policies.

Following his meeting with Zuckerberg Thursday, Rockefeller tweeted out that he told the Facebook CEO that protecting consumer privacy for users must be his company's priority.

"I emphasized with Mark Zuckerberg the utmost importance of strong consumer protections and how this must be a priority for his company. Hundreds of millions of consumers have already completely integrated their lives with Facebook, so I believe Facebook has an obligation to implement policies that safeguard their customers' information. Mr. Zuckerberg has an opportunity to chart a path for companies where they balance profits with what's right for their users," Rockefeller said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, reintroduced his Do Not Track bill, which would give consumers the right to prevent online companies from tracking them on the Web. So far, Rockefeller has yet to move the bill through committee, which now counts two more likely supporters than last Congress in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of Rockefeller's bill, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who plans to soon reintroduce his Do Not Track Kids bill. Markey and other committee members were also in the meeting with Zuckerberg. 

Facebook can't seem to avoid controversy when it comes to its privacy policies. The world's most popular social network is currently under fire from privacy groups for changes it made to its data use policy, which makes clear that it can use users' names, likenesses, and other information in connection with advertising. While Facebook calls the changes "updates," 20 privacy and consumer advocate groups charge the alterations are likely in violation of the company's 20-year consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission because the changes were made without users' express permission and could harm the welfare of teens ages 13-17.