Handbags at dawn
Facebook is fighting back against a high-profile
electronic privacy group which filed a federal complaint against it. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) asked
the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's recent changes to its
users' privacy options.
"These changes violate user expectations, diminish
user privacy, and contradict Facebook's own representations," EPIC's
complaint (PDF) alleges.
EPIC is backed by the Centre for Digital Democracy, the
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and seven other advocacy organisations. They are moaning about Facebook's newly
"public" treatment of such data as users' names, genders, cities, and
profile photos. EPIC points out, this information is now disclosed to search
engines as well as to third-party Facebook applications. Normally such complaints are dealt with fairly quietly,
but Facebook has taken the unusual step of fighting back.
It has said that it's already spoken with the FTC and
other regulators about the changes. A representative from the company notes
users, including the ability to specify different settings for every photo,
link, or status update posted onto the social network.
Not only that, Facebook has spoken to dozens of organizations
around the world about the recent changes. However EPIC went straight to the
FTC while refusing to talk to it about its worries.