San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the ACLU of Northern California, and a coalition of privacy groups are urging Facebook to give users true control over their personal data by taking six critical steps to protect members' information.

In an open letter sent to CEO Mark Zuckerberg today, the coalition asks Facebook to close its "app gap" and allow users to decide which applications can access their personal data. The group also asks Facebook to make "instant personalization" an opt-in service and use an HTTPS connection for all interactions by default, among other steps.

"Facebook continues to push its users into more and more public sharing -- sharing that it's not at all clear members want or fully understand," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "We're calling on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to respect their members and give them the information and the tools they need for true control."

Facebook has faced a firestorm of criticism since April, when it made sweeping revisions to its privacy policy. Among the changes were the launch of the controversial "instant personalization" service, as well as forcing users to chose between making wide swaths of previously private data public or deleting the information. Facebook made some important privacy improvements in May, but key aspects of user control were not covered by the changes.

"Social network service providers are in a unique position -- hosting communications, conversations, and connections with loved ones, family, and friends," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "This is extremely sensitive information, and social networking services must ensure that users have ongoing privacy and control."

In the wake of the public outcry against Facebook's privacy revisions, EFF issued a Bill of Privacy Rights for social network users, advocating that all social network users have the right to make informed decisions about their level of privacy, to exercise control over their data, and to leave a network. Social network users' rights are also under discussion this week at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference in San Jose.

In addition to EFF and the ACLU of Northern California, other groups signing today's open letter include the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, Privacy Lives, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

For the full open letter:

For EFF's Bill of Privacy Rights for Social Network Users:

For more on social networking and privacy:


Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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