Facebook’s changes clash with Europeans’ expectations of privacy

Europeans are well-known for their high privacy expectations and demands. Another proof of that is a letter that the Article 29 Working Party (an independent European Commission advisory body) has sent to Facebook, in which they say it is “unacceptable that the company fundamentally changed the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user.”

This is, of course, not the first negative reaction Facebook has to face for their newly made changes to its Privacy settings. In the US, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Federal Trade Commission made their disapproval known. Canada and some European countries have also previously called into question some of Facebook’s data policies.

The Article 29 Working Party is additionally displeased with Facebook’s obvious disregard of the “Safer Networking Principles for the EU”, an agreement signed by 20 social network operators.

The Working Party advocates the “need for a default setting in which access to the profile information and information about the connections of a user is limited to self-selected contacts. Any further access, such as by search engines, should be an explicit choice of the user.” It also claim that “providers of social networking sites should be aware that it would be a breach of data protection law if they use personal data of other individuals contained in a user profile for commercial purposes if these other individuals have not given their free and unambiguous consent.”

According to the Financial Times, Facebook’s director of public policy in Europe is yet to offer an official response or comment.

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