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Privacy groups call for action to stop Facebook's off site user tracking plans

Loek Essers | July 30, 2014
Authorities should act immediately to stop this new vast expansion of Facebook's data collection and user profiling, privacy groups said.

The groups also called on the FTC to examine whether Facebook's change in business practices violates a 2012 consent order between it and the FTC in a case involving the company's repeated sharing of information its users had asked to keep private. In that order Facebook agreed not to misrepresent the extent to which it maintains the privacy or security of covered information, while this change is misleading users, the groups said.

Moreover, the groups say, when users must go to a separate website in order to opt out of the new program, they have not given their "affirmative express consent" -- something required by the FTC's consent order. Opting out involves downloading an opt-out cookie to override the Facebook collection cookie, which has the effect of punishing the users who are most diligent about their privacy because the minute users clear their cookies, they also delete the opt-out preference, the groups said.

They also asked the Irish DPC how this "new vast expansion of the social network's data collection and user profiling" could have been allowed to go forward in the light of the DPC's investigation of Facebook's privacy practices. After that investigation, which led to the DPC recommending further actions, Facebook made a series of commitments to improve its privacy practices in the EU.

"We respectfully call on you to take the appropriate action, order Facebook to reverse its new data collection practice, and develop public accountability mechanisms for the company to ensure it is complying with required privacy practices," the groups said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

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