Facebook Fails to Address Privacy Concerns, as Powerful Canadian Complaint Documents

They ought to change the name of a corporate position entitled chief privacy officer to chief data collection protector. That’s our response to the comment from Facebook’s Chris Kelly, who serves as its chief privacy officer. According to the Associated Press, Mr. Kelly responded to the privacy complaint filed by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) with the following comment: “We’ve reviewed the complaint and found it has serious factual errors — most notably its neglect of the fact that almost all Facebook data is willingly shared by users…”

We find such a remark incredibly revealing about Facebook, and it raises questions about how well they have structured the role of its “chief privacy officer.” For example, does Mr. Kelly believe that Facebook users understand, as pointed out in the very important CIPPIC complaint on page 22, that outside developers are given access to a wide range of user information. As the complaint notes:

“(a) Information That May Be Provided to Developers. In order to allow you to use and participate in Platform Applications created by Developers, Facebook may from time to time provide Developers access to the following information: (i) any information provided by you and visible to you on the Facebook Site, excluding any of your Contact Information, and
(ii) the user ID associated with your Facebook Site profile.
(b) Examples of Facebook Site Information. The Facebook Site Information may include, without limitation, the following information, to the extent visible on the Facebook Site: your name, your profile picture, your gender, your birthday, your hometown location (city/state/country), your current location (city/state/country), your political view, your activities, your interests, your musical preferences, television shows in which you are interested, movies in which you are interested, books in which you are interested, your favorite quotes, the text of your “About Me” section, your relationship status, your dating interests, your relationship interests, your summer plans, your Facebook user network affiliations, your education history, your work history, your course information, copies of photos in your Facebook Site photo albums, metadata associated with your Facebook Site photo albums (e.g., time of upload, album name, comments on your photos, etc.), the total number of messages sent and/or received by you, the total number of unread messages in your Facebook in-box, the total number of “pokes” you have sent and/or received, the
total number of wall posts on your Wallâ„¢, a list of user IDs mapped to your Facebook friends, your social timeline, and events associated with your Facebook profile.”

Whoa! Do users really know this and give away their data consciously? We think not. Our friends from Up North have ignited a campaign which will grow throughout the world.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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