EFF in the News
The announcement landed flat on, well, flat on its face. A chorus of the usual suspects, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California cried multiple fouls, objecting both to the nature of the changes and the way in which they were being imperiously foisted on users...
In a detailed exegesis published on Wednesday, EFF's Kevin Bankston divided the revisions into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
While the Facebook privacy overhaul has laudable features, there is a push to get the online community's members to expose information, according to EFF.
"Facebook's new changes are obviously intended to get people to open up even more of their Facebook data to the public," EFF lawyer Kevin Bankston said in a blog post.
"The Facebook privacy transition tool is clearly designed to push users to share much more of their Facebook info with everyone, a worrisome development that will likely cause a major shift in privacy level for most of Facebook's users, whether intentionally or inadvertently."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is appealing, on behalf of several plaintiffs, a June federal court decision that upheld legislation that protects the companies, who acted without court authorization, from being prosecuted.
For nearly two decades, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has fearlessly defended the digital universe.
Now its online heroes are teaming up with Randall Munroe’s stick-figure web-comic sensation Xkcd to celebrate with collaborative t-shirts and hoodies.
Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Kevin Bankston, for one, criticized Facebook for removing controls as it tried to simplify its privacy settings.
“Things get downright ugly when it comes to controlling who gets to see personal information such as your list of friends,” said Bankston. “Under the new regime, Facebook treats that information — along with your name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks and the pages that you are a ‘fan’ of — as ‘publicly available information’ or ‘PAI.’ Before, users were allowed to restrict access to much of that information.”
Other issues that remain problematic in this amended settlement were nicely summed up in a series of posts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deep Links blog, all of them related to core library values.
Still, privacy organizations and some users are critiquing the move. In a blog post, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (disclaimer: my wife works there) called this part of Facebook’s privacy change “downright ugly.”
Users are “coming to share with whom they want to, which is not necessarily everyone on the Internet,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff lawyer at the group, nothing that these privacy distinctions were what always differentiated Facebook from MySpace, and the rest of the Web. “Now Facebook is clumsily trying to change the game and push users to share more than they ever have before.”
But the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco digital rights advocacy group, warned that new controls now eliminate the option to make that same information private even if the member chose to do so previously.
And Facebook has also dropped the option to block a friend's third-party applications, such as quizzes and games, from accessing profile information, said foundation senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston. That opens a member's personal data to third-party software developers even if the member doesn't use any applications, he said.
The new settings are supposed to make it easier and simpler to control your information, but the changes are drawing a mix of criticism and praise from privacy watchdogs such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
But criticism came from numerous quarters. Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote that some of Facebook's new settings "have created new and serious privacy problems for users of the popular social network service."