June 13, 2011: Markey Supports Consumer Groups

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-Chairman of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement after consumer groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about Facebook’s new facial recognition feature. Media stories have reported that Facebook changed user privacy settings, without user permission, to automatically turn on a new facial recognition feature that detects a user’s face in an image or photo.  After these stories appeared last week, Rep. Markey called on Facebook to stop its policy of automatically enabling this feature and instead offer its users the option of enabling it themselves if they wanted to take advantage of the site’s facial recognition functionality.
“The Federal Trade Commission should investigate this important privacy matter, and I commend the consumer groups for their filing. When it comes to users’ privacy, Facebook’s policy should be: ‘Ask for permission, don’t assume it.’ Rather than facial recognition, there should be a Facebook recognition that changing privacy settings without permission is wrong.  I encourage the FTC to probe this issue and will continue to closely monitor this issue.”
Rep. Markey, along with Congressman Joe Barton, wrote to Facebook in October 2010 about a series of privacy breaches that affected “tens of millions” of Facebook users whose personal information was leaked to third party applications, even those who adjusted their privacy settings to the strictest settings possible settings.  The Congressmen again wrote to Facebook on May 11, 2011 inquiring about a security weakness on Facebook that provided advertisers, analytics firms and other third parties the capability to access Facebook users' accounts and personal information.