An “Epic” complaint against Facebook

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has issues with Facebook’s changes to its user’s privacy options. And they filed a federal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission today to show just how serious they were.

“These changes violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook’s own representations,” EPIC’s complaint alleges.

The EPIC isn’t alone in their undertaking too. The Center for Digital Democracy, the Privacy Rights Clearing house and seven other advocacy organizations have also issues regarding the newly “public” treatment of user data like name, profile photos, gender and cities to search engines and third-party Facebook apps.

Facebook however, are quick to defend itself. According to the popular social networking site, they already spoke to the FTC and other regulators regarding the changes.

“We’ve had productive discussions with dozens of organizations around the world about the recent changes,” Facebook’s manager of public policy communications Andrew Noyes said in a prepared statement.

“We’re disappointed that EPIC has chosen to share their concerns with the FTC while refusing to talk to us about them.”

This isn’t the first time that Facebook’s privacy policies didn’t bode well with EPIC. In February of this year, the organization also prepared a federal complaint over certain changes to be implemented. The social networking site however, were quick to agree with EPIC and agreed to revert to its old terms of use.



Privacy groups: We’ve had enough!

Go to a website about gadgets and you’ll likely find ads selling cameras, cellphones, laptops, and a slew of other gadgets. This is called behavioral advertising – a marketing strategy that gathers data from online activities of consumers to determine what their interests are then show ads that cater to these interests.

As of present, Internet companies are practicing self-regulation regarding this type of advertising because there are less rules to follow and it is much cheaper than complying to government requirements.

Privacy and consumer groups however, do not want this anymore and want Congress to take action and are urging them to draft a new legislation regarding consumer privacy.

The privacy and consumer groups include: Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy Lives, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and The World Privacy Forum. The ten groups drafted 13 pages of proposed changes, InfoWeek reports.

Although Google is very much known for their ads, it is not the company that the groups are worried about. InfoWeek reports that companies with “controversial practices” like NebuAd and Phorm are the ones that concern the groups.

The representatives of the group however stressed out that they do not want to “kill” behavioral advertising. They just want to safeguard the consumers.

“The basic idea behind all of these documents is we want consumers to be able to take advantage of all of these technologies without these technologies taking advantage of the consumers,” Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, said. “And right now that balance is not there.”