Facebook's Open Privacy Letter

Consumer groups and privacy advocates ask for changes from company

By Jackson West
|  Thursday, Jun 17, 2010  |  Updated 4:30 PM PDT
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A group of privacy and consumer advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation, published an open letter to Facebook on Wednesday asking for some changes from the company.

Among other issues, the letter asked that the company to make the new "Instant Personalization" feature opt-in, stop saving information about third party pages users visit which have a Facebook "Like" button, and to use encrypted connections by default to further protect personal information.

The letter also took issue with the company's decision to make it impossible for certain profile details to be hidden from the public.

Facebook has responded with an open letter of its own to answer the questions.

The company says that it's working on encrypted connections; that it doesn't use the "Like" button or other widgets to track users or to sell to third parties.

However, it hasn't backed down from its stance that the information now forced to be public will stay public, and its that information that will power default "Instant Personalization" of third-party sites like Pandora.

Finally, responding the original letter's request that the company make it easy for users to download any content they've posted to Facebook in the event they want to leave the service, Facebook accuses the watchdogs of wanting to allow users "to strip all privacy protections for any information that has been shared with them."

However, it's pretty clear that the intent was for users to be able to download photos, videos and other data that they themselves had updated, not content uploaded by contacts on the site.

The company does provide an automated programming interface that would let people download their data, however, like trying to leave Facebook, it's pretty complicated.

Jackson West should really just delete his Facebook account by now, but that would require logging in to Facebook.

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