EFF in the News
But that's Google's problem, not the government's according to Granick. "I think they do have to make a structural change," she says. "They're in the business of collecting and monetizing people's data. They need to make people feel comfortable."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation says the privacy improvements are "a positive step" but "there's still more work to be done."
The EFF has sound advice for people who want to maintain tight control over their privacy on Facebook. Facebook's recommended privacy settings would share "a substantial amount" of information with everyone, says the EFF.
In a blog post, the civil liberties group praised Facebook for a "great first step" towards giving members of the site more control over their data.
However, it warned members against choosing the site's recommended privacy control setting.
Mr. KEVIN BANKSTON (Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation): They are becoming more responsive to privacy concerns, but I think their basic philosophy of what the future of Facebook and the Internet should be has not changed. And so we are going to have to be watchful.
Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Facebook has taken important first steps to improve its privacy practices...
"Over the years, Facebook has had a history of gradually degrading privacy standards. It's time to see if the company can now make a sustained commitment to doing things better," he said.
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.