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Facebook clarifies privacy policy in response to regulatory probes

15 May 2012

Following probes by US and European regulators, Facebook is proposing changes to its privacy policy to be more explicit about how it handles members’ information.

In a blog post, Erin Egan, chief privacy officer for policy, explained how Facebook has “improved” its privacy policy, particularly how the company uses cookies and how it handles data.

“We created a new section explaining how we use ‘cookies’ and similar technologies and updated the corresponding explanations about cookies in our Help Center. We also provide more information about how we use data to operate Facebook, to advertise, and to promote safety and security for Facebook users”, Egan wrote.

“We also updated our policy to reflect our launch of timeline and to provide information on cover photos and other Facebook features that work with timeline. Finally, we’ve made a number of organizational changes to make things easier to find, as well as some administrative updates”, she added.

Facebook appears to be clarifying its privacy policy in response to regulatory probes by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office. In a consent agreement reached with the FTC in November last year, Facebook agreed to be more explicit about its privacy policy as well as to get consent from its users before changing privacy settings.

In addition, the Irish agency conducted an audit into Facebook’s privacy policy last year. In response to Facebook's announced changes, the agency concluded that the company had not addressed a number of problems identified in the audit, including data retention and facial recognition issues, a spokeswoman told ZDNet UK.

Egan held a question and answer session on Monday about the privacy policy changes. Facebook is taking comments on the privacy policy this week.

This article is featured in:
Compliance and Policy  •  Internet and Network Security  •  Public Sector


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