The changes announced are a result of the company’s work with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which has spent more than a year reviewing Facebook’s privacy policies and controls. In their report, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner gratefully acknowledged Facebook’s cooperation in the course of the investigation and commended Facebook for providing its users with extensive privacy settings. The Commissioner also made a number of recommendations, to which Facebook has responded with commitments for significant enhancements that will be implemented over the next 12 months. The Commissioner has reviewed these proposals and is satisfied with the commitments Facebook has made.
“Our productive and constructive dialogue with the Commissioner’s office has given us an opportunity to improve our policies and practices in a way that will provide even greater transparency and control for Facebook users,” said Elliot Schrage, Vice-President of Global Communications and Public Policy at Facebook. “We believe that these changes are not only great for our users and address all of the Commissioners’ outstanding concerns, but they also set a new standard for the industry.”
Specific changes Facebook will be making:
• Encouraging users to review their privacy settings to make sure the defaults and selections reflect the user’s preferences.
• Increasing the understanding and control a user has over the information accessed by third-party applications. Specifically, Facebook will introduce a new permissions model that will require applications to specify the categories of information they wish to access and obtain express consent from the user before any data is shared. In addition, the user will also have to specifically approve any access to their friends’ information, which would still be subject to the friend’s privacy and application settings.
“We strongly believe that the changes to the permission model for third-party applications will give users more confidence in Platform and will, thus, help ensure the long-term health and vitality of the ecosystem that has grown around Platform,” said Ethan Beard, Director of Platform Product Marketing at Facebook. “We will be communicating regularly with developers about the changes and we’re going to take our time to make sure the outcome is something users understand and that developers have ample time and notice to adapt.”