Activist Group Could Force Facebook Privacy Changes

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According to TechCrunch, the European Activist Group, which is lead by students in Austria, has reached a comment threshold that could take Facebook's privacy changes to a worldwide vote. The campaign began about a year ago, when the group filed complaints with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) for changes to be made to what they feel are loopholes in Facebook's privacy standards. Ireland is the site of the international headquarters for Facebook.

These are there demands, quoted from TechCrunch:

  • A clarification regarding Facebook’s existing policy that it may use your data to serve you ads outside of while you’re on other websites
  • A detailed new chart of how Facebook uses cookies to improve Facebook but not track you across the web
  • A more detailed explanation of how in some cases Facebook will “retain [your] data as long as necessary to provide you services” whether that’s less or more time

The DPC issued a report that suggested changes to the policy. Mostly changes that allowed users to access their data easily, and remove what they choose. According to the activist group, this worsened conditions and still did not comply with DPC standards. The DPC and the German Data Protection Agency (GDPA) have since made more changes.

By Facebook's own standards, "If more than 7,000 users comment on the proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives. The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote."

With Facebook approaching a billion users, it is difficult to say if 300 million care enough about their Facebook privacy to vote in favor of these changes. Or if enough people will even know about it when the time comes. It seems like an extremely important issue, considering the number of changes Facebook continually makes to privacy, and the growing number of lawsuits they face over it.