Your Posts, Their Ads: Facebook’s Privacy Policy Changes

Check out the latest from Debra Diener, courtesy of Privacy Made Simple.

This is a “heads up” about Facebook’s Friday, November 15th Privacy Policy announcement.  I had previously written about the proposed Privacy Policy changes that Facebook announced back in August. While some of those changes have been deleted, the key change has now been made final — and it’s a change about which Facebook users need to be aware.

What’s the change?  By having a Facebook account, users are agreeing that Facebook can use their personal posts, photos, location and other personal information for advertising. Vindu Goel wrote an excellent article about the Privacy Policy changes and how they fit into Facebook’s overall business plan.  He wrote that the changes are part of a broader effort by Facebook of “…pushing its users to share more data while also making that information easier to find” (www,nytimes.com/2013/11/16/technology/facebook-amends-privacy-policies”; “Facebook Reasserts Posts Can Be Used to Advertise)”.

Facebook users should also read the November 15th blog by Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, Policy (https://www.facebook.com; “Updates to Data Use Policy, Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Take Effect”).  In brief, Ms. Egan said that “…nothing about this update changes advertising policies and practices….”   She wrote that the changes only clarified Facebook’s prior policies.

Ms. Egan’s lengthy blog outlines many areas about which Facebook users need to be aware (e.g., use of tags, advertising, setting changes). Facebook users might not mind having their posted information used in ads but they should know what is being done — and what, if anything, they can do about it.  I also encourage Facebook users to periodically visit the Facebook “Site Governance” and “Privacy” pages to keep current on any future policy changes.

Courtesy of Privacy Made Simple.

Snapchat Spurned $3 Billion Acquisition Offer from Facebook

“Snapchat, a rapidly growing messaging service, recently spurned an all-cash acquisition offer from Facebook for $3 billion or more, according to people briefed on the matter.

The offer, and rebuff, came as Snapchat is being wooed by other investors and potential acquirers. Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent Holdings had offered to lead an investment that would value two-year-old Snapchat at $4 billion.”

To view the full article, please visit Snapchat Spurned $3 Billion Acquisition Offer from Facebook.

 

 

Facebook Eases Privacy Rules for Teenagers

Vindu Goel ties all the critical factors together in Facebook’s ongoing decisions that eliminate teens’ privacy on Facebook: the history of social media and children, teen psychology and bullying, the EU’s response, and how exposing teens online is driven by Zuckerberg’s quest for ever greater profits.

To view the full article, please visit: Facebook Eases Privacy Rules for Teenagers

Google to Sell Users’ Endorsements

The New York Times posted an article reminding us about the permanence of our digital footprints.  Those old posts are never forgotten and can now be used by Google to make a profit.

“Those long-forgotten posts on social networks, from the pasta someone photographed to the rant about her dentist, are forgotten no more. Social networks want to make them easier to find, and in some cases, to show them in ads.  Google on Friday announced that it would soon be able to show users’ names, photos, ratings and comments in ads across the Web, endorsing marketers’ products. Facebook already runs similar endorsement ads.”

“’People expect when they give information, it’s for a single use, the obvious one,’ said Dr. Deborah C. Peel, a psychoanalyst and founder of Patient Privacy Rights, an advocacy group. ‘That’s why the widening of something you place online makes people unhappy. It feels to them like a breach, a boundary violation.’”

“’We set our own boundaries,’” she added. ‘We don’t want them set by the government or Google or Facebook.'”

“Dr. Peel said the rise of new services like Snapchat, which features person-to-person messages that disappear after they are opened, showed how much people wanted more control over how their information was shared.”

To view the full article click here

Privacy groups ask FTC to stop Facebook policy changes

“Half a dozen privacy groups have asked the Federal Trade Commission to stop Facebook from enacting changes to two of its governing documents… In addition to EPIC, CDD and Consumer Watchdog, representatives from Patient Privacy Rights, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse also signed the letter.”

To view the full article, please visit: Privacy groups ask FTC to stop Facebook policy changes

Consumer Watchdog and Other Privacy Groups Urge FTC to Block Pending Facebook Privacy Changes

“A coalition of six consumer privacy groups is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to enforce an earlier consent order with Facebook and block proposed changes in the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and its Data Use Policy because the proposed changes violate the 2011 settlement with the Commission.”

“The changes will allow Facebook to routinely use the images and names of Facebook users for commercial advertising without consent,” the groups said. “The changes violate Facebook’s current policies and the 2011 Facebook settlement with the FTC. The Commission must act to enforce its order.”

Signing the letter were Consumer Watchdog, the Electronic Privacy Information (EPIC), the Center for Digital Democracy, Patient Privacy Rights, U.S. PIRG, and Privacy Rights Clearing House. Read a copy of the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrfacebookftc090413.pdf

“Facebook has long played fast and loose with users’ data and relied on complex privacy settings to confuse its users, but these proposed changes go well beyond that,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy director. “Facebook’s overreach violates the FTC Consent Order that was put in place after the last major privacy violation; if the Commission is to retain any of its credibility, it must act immediately to enforce that order.”

To view the full article, please visit: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/consumer-watchdog-and-other-privacy-groups-urge-ftc-to-block-pending-facebook-privacy-changes-2013-09-05

Between Paranoia and Naivete

This op-ed was written by the political editor of the German paper ‘Die Zeit’. He summarizes the historical/cultural perspectives of Germany and the US regarding data protection and rights to control personal information in electronic systems.

He recommends both nation’s approaches should be on the table for discussion to decide “best practices” for data protection.

But he makes some key assertions I disagree with.

He states:

1) A future dictatorship’s use of Facebook would be “the least of your problems”.

  • But actually Facebook spying is very valuable to dictatorships because it reveals contacts and thoughts.

2) Citizens of “liberal societies” are not “experiencing a change in values” and “no longer feel uncomfortable sharing personal even private information”.

  • There is no change in values. Research shows people care just as much as they always have about privacy: ie control over what personal information they share with whom.  People care most about controlling who sees sensitive personal health data—but in the US we have no control.
  • The problem is that privacy/personal control over pii was not built into electronic systems.

3) Re: the Internet as an “emergent system” which “functions so well because it works equally for everybody” and “might cease to offer the greatest benefit for the greatest number”.

  • The Internet has already brought an “advantage to a minority–the rulers”.  He fails to recognize that the Internet is controlled and who controls it now.
  • Lawrence Lessig’s classic book “Code” explains that software and hardware, ie ‘code’ regulates the Internet and determines who controls it.  We must legislate/regulate technology in order to build a cyberspace that supports fundamental democratic rights and values.
  • The NSA/Verizon revelations are proof that a minority in fact control/rule the Internet to the detriment of all; and to the detriment of freedom and our human and civil rights to be “let alone”.

To view the full article, please visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/opinion/between-paranoia-and-naivete.html?_r=0#!

Re: The Internet is a surveillance state

In response to the CNN article by Bruce Schneier: The Internet is a surveillance state

Bruce Schneier is wrong. Privacy is not over — the public is just now learning how invasive Internet technology, tech corporations, and government really are, and that they ACT to protect and maintain the US surveillance economy. When enough citizens tell Congress and the President to stop, this privacy disaster will stop.

The public is just beginning to WAKE UP. Today is the start of privacy in the Digital Age in the US, not the end.

It’s a lie that people happily give up privacy for “targeted ads” — tech giants like Google, Facebook, etc. have PREVENTED us from having apps and tools that enable privacy (ie, our right TO control personal information online). We have NO choices because government and the data mining industry have prevented us from having meaningful choices.

Signs of intelligent life in the Universe:

  • Attend or watch the 3rd International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy (its free). The EU Data Protection Supervisor will keynote and so will the US Chief Technology Officer—-the stark differences between US and EU data protections will be discussed—register at: http://www.healthprivacysummit.org/d/vcq3vz/4W
  • SnapChat—millions of free downloads of an app that shows people want technology that gives THEM control over their data: single use of info (a picture in this case) and the ability to delete info. See: http://patientprivacyrights.org/2013/02/snapchat-and-the-erasable-future-of-social-media/
  • A recent Pew Research Center study found smartphone users are taking action to protect their privacy:
  • The default for Microsoft’s Windows 8 browser is ‘Do Not Track’
    • Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch said a recent company study of computer users in the United States and Europe concluded that 75 percent wanted Microsoft to turn on the Do Not Track mechanism. “Consumers want and expect strong privacy protection to be built into Microsoft products and services.”
    • See more in the New York Times article: Do Not Track? Advertisers Say ‘Don’t Tread on Us’

DONATE to help Latanya Sweeney and Patient Privacy Rights build a health data map—-we MUST prove that thousands of hidden data users are stealing, using , and selling our personal health data: http://patientprivacyrights.org/donate/

SEE Latanya describe thedataMap at: http://patientprivacyrights.org/thedatamap/
This is the beginning of privacy, the war has just begun.

Re: PNAS study on predicting human behavior using digital records

Picture a box with 2,000 or 10,000 puzzle pieces inside—any one puzzle piece reveals nothing about the picture. But when all the pieces are assembled, an incredibly detailed picture FULL of information is created.

The data mining industry—including Google, Facebook, Acxiom and thousands more unknown corporations and foreign businesses—assembles the puzzle of who we are from thousands of bits of data we leave online. They know FAR MORE than anyone on Earth knows about each of us—more than what our partners, our moms and dads, our best friends, our psychoanalysts, or our children know about us.

The UK study shows how easy it is for hidden data mining companies to intimately know us (and sell) WHO WE ARE.

Most Americans are not aware of the ‘surveillance economy’ or that data miners can easily collect intimate psychological and physical/health profiles of everyone from online data.

The study:

  • “demonstrates the degree to which relatively basic digital records of human behavior can be used to automatically and accurately estimate a wide range of personal attributes that people would typically assume to be private”
  • “is based on Facebook Likes, a mechanism used by Facebook users to express their positive association with (or “Like”) online content, such as photos, friends’ status updates, Facebook pages of products, sports, musicians, books, restaurants, or popular Web sites”
  • correctly discriminates between:
    • homosexual and heterosexual men in 88% of cases
    • African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases
    • between Democrat and Republican in 85% of cases
    • For the personality trait “Openness,” prediction accuracy is close to the test–retest accuracy of a standard personality test

The “surveillance economy” is why the US needs FAR STRONGER LAWS at the very least to prevent the hidden collection, use, and sale of health data, including everything about our minds and bodies, unless we give meaningful informed consent.

This urgent topic, ie whether the US should adopt strong data privacy and security protections like the EU—will be debated at the 3rd International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy June 5-6 in DC (it’s free to attend and will also be live-streamed). Register at: www.healthprivacysummit.org

Re: Web Privacy Becomes a Business Imperative

New York Times article Web Privacy Becomes a Business Imperative by Somini Sengupta discusses web privacy affecting businesses’ bottom line. As Mozilla’s Chief Privacy Officer says in the article:

“They’re asking for a different level of privacy on your service,” he said, “You have to listen to that. It’s critical to your business.”

Finally. More Internet companies are realizing the truth behind what PPR has said all along: products and services that don’t offer real privacy and security don’t fly with consumers. While some still may debate the exact meaning of “privacy,” what we consistently see is that consumers want to have control over what happens with their data. It’s about time we start listening to what the public wants and honor everyone’s right to be let alone as they see fit.