lexiesloan (lexiesloan) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,

Facebook to Seek Consent for Privacy Changes


Facebook has responded to an investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission by changing the way it uses the personal information of its members, in a move welcomed by privacy campaigners. The social network previously introduced changes to personal settings on users' profiles without first seeking their permission, leading to widespread criticism and various investigations by regulators.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is close to reaching an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to change its privacy policy in order to avoid any sanctions.

The new system, which is awaiting final approval from the regulator, would require Facebook to obtain users' consent before making any "material retroactive changes" to its privacy policy. This would mean that the world's largest social network must gain approval from members before sharing their data in any way that differs from which the users have already consented.

It is also understood that Facebook has agreed to privacy audits by an independent organization over the next 20 years to offset concerns about the way it manages personal data.

Speaking on the Charlie Rose Show on US public service network PBS, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the arrangement will mean users will have "control over every single thing" they've shared on the site, including the power to take anything down they want.

Zuckerberg also hit out at search engines and advertising networks, saying that they gather a "huge amount of information" on users, which he claimed was "less transparent than what is happening at Facebook".

Privacy campaigners have welcomed the proposed new privacy policy by Facebook, but expressed concern that it will not prevent the site from mining members' data. London-based campaign group Privacy International told BBC News: "Facebook has historically been extremely resistant to transparency in its own operations, so we welcome measures that would force the company to obtain express consent of its users.

"However, it seems likely that the FTC's demands will only present a temporary obstacle in the path of Facebook's ambitions to collect its users' information. Faced with reams of small print, most users are likely to automatically agree to policy changes, with each change bringing us one step closer to Zuckerberg's vision of a privacy-free future."

Facebook is also to be investigated by a privacy regulator in Ireland over how it handles user data following a complaint from an Austria-based group called Europe Versus Facebook.

Tags: computers and technology

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