NEWS28 September 2012

Privacy watchdogs urge FTC to probe Facebook–Datalogix deal

Legal North America

US— Two privacy watchdogs have filed a joint letter with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Facebook’s deal with Datalogix may be infringing on an earlier commitment by the social network to be clear about how it handles user data.

In the letter the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) claim that the partnership with Datalogix may violate parts of a recent FTC consent order that outlined privacy principles Facebook should follow.

“Facebook did not attempt to notify users of its decision to disclose user information to Datalogix,” according to the letter, adding that it takes five separate actions to reach Facebook’s mention of Datalogix in user communications. “Thus, the commission should determine whether Facebook’s failure to notify users of the disclosure of user information to Datalogix violates the consent order.”

The letter goes on to explain that within Facebook’s Help Center where it mentions Datalogix, it is not possible to opt-out from Facebook’s data exchange with the company. Instead, there is a link to Datalogix’s privacy policy which does not relate to actions on Facebook itself, though buried further on there is a form that allows a person to “opt out of all Datalogix-enabled advertising and analytic products”.

CDD and EPIC argue that “opt-out cookies are a poor method of protecting privacy, as users understandably believe that deleting cookies will improve their privacy [and] do not realise that this step in fact removes the record of their request to be anonymous”.

Signatories on the letter include Marc Rotenberg, EPIC executive director, David Jacobs, EPIC consumer protection counsel, Jeramie Scott and Julia Horwitz, EPIC fellows and Jeff Chester, CDD executive director.