The Electronic Privacy Information Center and nine other organizations filed a complaint against Facebook over its new privacy options with the Federal Trade Commission yesterday, saying the changes are unfair and confusing for users and violate consumer protection laws.
The complaint is in response to the most recent iteration of Facebook’s ongoing privacy updates. The newest version rolled out last week asked users to go through what the company calls a transition tool, in order to provide more protection for user content. At the same time, the tool’s limited options seemed to reduce the amount of protection, and the complaints soared as people began following Facebook’s advice to select “Everyone” as their default, only to find that previously private information was completely public.
“This is the most significant case now before the Federal Trade Commission,” said Marc Rotenberg, EPIC Executive Director. “More than 100 million people in the United States subscribe to the Facebook service. The company should not be allowed to turn down the privacy dial on so many American consumers.”
EPIC has been a thorn in Facebook’s side for a while. According to their website Facebook reversed plans to change its Terms of Service in response to user complaints and EPIC’s plans to file a complaint with the FTC. At that time, the company was planning to only give users the option to deactivate their accounts, not delete them entirely.
Not surprisingly, Facebook groups have formed that are quite opposed to these changes–one of the largest has more than 2 million members. In addition to the FTC, the ACLU and other rights organizations are also urging users to publicly declare their distaste for these ongoing privacy fails.
The other groups joining in the complaint are American Library Association, the Center for Digital Democracy, the Consumer Federation of America, FoolProof Financial Education, Patient Privacy Rights, Privacy Activism, the Privacy Rights Now Coalition, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and the U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation.