Feeds

Privacy watchdog pack demands Facebook close the 'app gap'

'Nuclear option' not enough

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A small mob of privacy advocacy groups have called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to do more to protect user privacy by giving users more control over the way their personal information is turned over to third parties.

In a letter sent Wednesday, the groups – which included the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Privacy Information Center – acknowledged that Facebook has gone a long way to fixing the privacy blunders that have brought international condemnation to the social networking site.

“However, we are writing to urge you to continue to demonstrate your commitment to the principle of giving users control over how and with whom they share by taking these additional steps,” they wrote.

They went on to catalog six remaining features that jeopardize user privacy, chief among them an “app gap,” that allows applications to access a user's information even when she has never run the program. That's because an app has access to the data as long as any of that user's friends run it.

“Facebook's latest changes allow users a 'nuclear option' to opt out of applications entirely,” Wednesday's letter acknowledged. “While this is an important setting, it is not adequate for meaningful control. Facebook users should also have the option to choose to share information only with specific applications.”

Other steps include:

  • Make “instant personalization” opt-in rather than opt-out by default
  • Don't retain data about specific visitors to third-party sites that incorporate social plugins or Facebook's “like” button” unless the user chooses
  • Provide users with control over every piece of information they can share, including name, gender, profile picture and networks
  • Offer encrypted HTTPS connections for all interactions and
  • Provide users with simple tools for exporting their uploaded content and details of their social networks so it's easier for users to leave Facebook for a competing service

The letter comes a few weeks after Facebook touched off a firestorm by loosing user privacy controls and putting them in place without getting explicit permission first.

Other groups that signed the letter included the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Consumer Watchdog, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. A PDF of the letter is here. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.