“Be aware where you put your I Agree signature on and something else”; now Facebook by default opts you in an unseen private data bazar

Facebook has recently become a major EU target for data privacy issues -  © European Sting - All rights Reserved

Facebook has recently become a major EU target for data privacy issues                                         © European Sting – All rights Reserved

When was the last time you installed an application or software in your mobile, tablet or computer? I bet it was quite recently; yesterday or even a couple of hours ago. Do you remember the smooth popup text box that appears in your screen before the installation of your new widget begins? You know, it’s this initially seemingly small “Terms of Use” that in fact have a scroll down, which we never scroll down anyway, and in paper it wound print up to the length of a 1 km long papyrus.

Well, we have all experienced this popup so many times in various user interface platforms and, let’s face it, we do not have the time to read all these terms. So what do we do? We just click on the “I Agree” button to finalise with the installation of the software or service and continue with our time squeezed lives, which by default impose that we don’t pay attention to where we press our “I Agree” button on. Well, at least in this case we are asked if we agree or not!

My mother always used say: “Be aware where you put your “I Agree” signature on…” and something else that is not relevant to cite here. The spontaneous “agreement” and confidence that we show to Any service or Any program or Any application by Any provider that we install in our mobile or desktop or tablet can be the theme of a PhD thesis topic on its own. There a researcher could find out how sad our digital lives have become due to lack of time, ignorance, stupidity and cunning service or app providers on the other side of the line that take advantage of all that to make profit.

Facebook trades our private data?

So, it’s time to get to the big recent news for European data privacy; while in most cases we are asked to choose between the button “I Agree” or “I Disagree”, Facebook does not ask us any more! They imply that our immediate consent to do whatever they want with our data should be taken for granted!

It is like this. Last week, on 30 January, the social media giant, Facebook, made a substantial change in its privacy terms. Here are the key excerpts of this change that was most likely not spotted by your radars:

“We collect information when you visit or use third-party websites and apps that use our Services (like when they offer our Like button or Facebook Log In or use our measurement and advertising services). This includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our Services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us.”
Information from third-party partners: “We receive information about you and your activities on and off Facebook from third-party partners, such as information from a partner when we jointly offer services or from an advertiser about your experiences or interactions with them…”Sharing With Third-Party Partners and Customers: We work with third party companies who help us provide and improve our Services or who use advertising or related products, which makes it possible to operate our companies and provide free services to people around the world.”

So, basically this means that more than 2 billion users in the globe by default agree since last Friday, without being asked whether they agree or disagree, that our data is not only scrutinised and shared in the Facebook platform but also with the entire Facebook family, like Whatsapp, Instagram, Oculus, the giant’s advertising company named Atlas etc. And all this to serve Facebook’s very lucrative and extremely high margin business model. Do you freak out already? Wait because there is more into it!

A terrible statement

As Facebook is apparently underestimating our mental capacity, it has given an announcement that goes like this: “Facebook shares information with its affiliates in some cases to help apps serve you better. For example, if you’re locked out of your Instagram account, you can use your Facebook information to recover your password.” The question then made by a humble Facebook user is, “would I give a copy of my keys to all the citizens of my city I live in, just to make sure I am not locked outside”?

EU to investigate Facebook

Thank God there is this “Article 29 Working Party“, which by the way sounds like a title of a political thriller but in reality it is the Commission’s good task force to defend data protection on behalf of the European citizen. The “working party”, consisting of data protection specialists from EU member states, has picked up the Facebook privacy terms change of last week and has already launched an investigation on the most popular social media platform.

The countries involved in the scrutiny of the Google case are also leading the Facebook investigation. Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and possibly Italy will be the leading countries in this investigation, as the spokeswoman for Belgium’s state secretary for privacy, Bart Tommelein, said. She also said that the new change does “flagrantly go against general privacy laws in Europe.”…”These are several things that really go too far, we think, and the task force will investigate them,” she stressed. Moritz Karg, an in-house legal expert at the Hamburg Data Protection Authority (DPA) said that after reviewing the privacy terms of all the Facebook companies that handle our data after this latest change,  “then you see that there is a network for sharing personal data.”

As the EU data protection specialists are looking into the matter meticulously, they are expected soon to come to a conclusion whether the new privacy rules of Facebook break the EU privacy laws or not. Particularly they are interested in the way the affiliate apps/websites use the user’s data related to the famous “Like” button function. If they find clear and sound violations of that, then they will instruct Facebook to make privacy amendments in its platform. Of course if the American company does not comply, then the matter would escalate in a similar way to the Google case.

In any case, Facebook gave an emailed answer to Gigaom on the matter that is cited below:

“We recently updated our terms and policies to make them more clear and concise, to reflect new product features and to highlight how we’re expanding people’s control over advertising. We’re confident the updates comply with applicable laws. As a company with international headquarters in Dublin, we routinely review product and policy updates­ including this one with our regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, who oversees our compliance with the EU Data Protection Directive as implemented under Irish law.”

You can still Opt-Out

All in all, if while the issue unfolds in the following weeks, you already feel unwell in the idea that Facebook is bidding your personal information in a covert and uncontrolled private data bazar, then the Sting gives you here the solution. In the following links you can already Opt-Out from this mess and have a more peaceful sleep:

http://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=ads&view

http://youradchoices.ca/choices

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Comments

  1. hollalaycan says:

    Reblogged this on hollalaycan and commented:
    The spy who loves me……Hmmm!

  2. Thanks , I have recently been searching for information about this subject for a while
    and yours is the best I’ve discovered so far.
    But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the supply?

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