EFF in the News
Over recent weeks, Facebook has been in the eye of a storm. The site, which has more than 400 million active users, has faced criticism from regulators and advocacy groups around the world. Bodies including the European Commission and advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation were concerned about the complexity of Facebook's privacy settings.
KEVIN BANKSTON, senior staff attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation: We think, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the key question is, does the user of the social network have complete control over how all of their information is shared?
Marcia Hofmann is a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which focuses on individual rights in the digital age:
"As Yogi Berra said, it’s déjà vu all over again. Facebook changes its service in ways that infuriate users and create an uproar over privacy. It apologizes and rolls back some of the changes, and users simmer down. Then the same thing happens a few months later."
Google says it launched the service in response to demands from privacy campaigners such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a protection against state and commercial snooping.
My guess is that most of them think they are just writing to their "friends" because they don't understand how to fix their privacy settings and have simply accepted the defaults provided by Facebook. There's a trend here. Privacy on Facebook has been steadily, inexorably eroding. To track the erosion, see the timeline posted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or a sobering animation created by IBM researcher Matt McKeon. What we're looking at is the implementation of a corporate strategy designed to maximise return for Facebook's owners.
Any site you visit can collect a lot of information about you, as creepily evidenced by the Panopticlick project run by digital civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. One piece of information sites obtain about visitors is their referrer, the URL of the site visitors come from. Nearly every company uses referrers to find out what their sources of traffic are (Google, blogs, etc.).
An online privacy group has found that an overwhelming majority of web browsers have unique signatures - creating identifiable "fingerprints" that can be used to track you as you surf the internet.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation stepped up its criticism of Facebook on Friday, and more Facebook users are sharing links to sites such as ReclaimPrivacy.org or signing pledges at QuitFacebookDay.com, which targets May 31 as a day of protest.
Not everyone sees it quite as positively as Zuckerberg, however. Following the introduction of the feature, protests have been mounted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and even Facebook users themselves.
Legal costs can also skyrocket, when people challenge accusations that they infringed on intellectual property. For instance, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the advocacy group for tech companies and Internet users, announced that it is looking for attorneys to represent people sued by the Copyright Group.