Company plans to re-launch feature enabling users to share personal information with third parties
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), Co-Chairmen of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to respond to questions about the company’s proposed plan to make users’ addresses and mobile phone numbers available to third-party websites and application developers. This latest announcement comes after Reps. Markey and Barton previously wrote to Facebook about a Wall Street Journal report that companies operating on the site were accessing users’ personal information without their knowledge or consent. Reps. Markey and Barton received a response from Facebook in fall 2010 in response to their inquiry. Facebook announced on January 14, 2010 that it would temporarily suspend and then soon re-launch a feature to enable its users to share more of their personal information, potentially including their addresses and mobile phone numbers, with websites and third-party application developers.
“Facebook needs to protect the personal information of its users to ensure that Facebook doesn’t become Phonebook," said Rep. Markey. "That’s why I am requesting responses to these questions to better understand Facebook’s practices regarding possible access to users’ personal information by third parties. This is sensitive data and needs to be protected.”
“Facebook’s popularity has made it a leader in innovation and we hope they will also be a leader in privacy protection,” said Rep. Barton. “The computer – especially with sites like Facebook - is now a virtual front door to your house allowing people access to your personal information. You deserve to look through the peep hole and decide who you are letting in.”
Rep. Markey, a senior member and former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee, is the House author of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Markey plans to introduce legislation early this year that will include a 'Do Not Track' requirement so that kids do not have their online behavior tracked or their personal information collected or profiled.
In their letter today, Reps. Markey and Barton ask Mr. Zuckerberg to respond to questions that include:
A full copy of today’s letter to Zuckerberg can be found HERE .