Facebook's new Privacy Policy gives it more reach

Facebook changing its privacy policies is nothing new, but once in a while it manages to hit a nerve that causes privacy advocates and governments agencies to take notice. Especially when Facebook does so rather silently. That might be the case last weekend when the social networking giant made some modifications to its Privacy Policy change that, though still in plain English, is somewhat ambiguously worded in such a way that it can be open to interpretation and abuse. By Facebook, of course.

There are, in particular, two major changes that have some like Hamburg privacy regulator Johannes Caspar worried. The first is seemingly innocent as it is.

"We receive information about you from companies that are owned or operated by Facebook, in accordance with their terms and policies."

Give to Facebook what is Facebook's, fair enough. Until you realize what these other companies are. Just to name a few, they now include Instagram, WhatsApp, and even Oculus. Only two of those has anything to do with social networking, and yet, by simply being owned by Facebook, the social network will gain any information you surrender to these services and companies. And that's just the current list. Who's to say there won't be more in the future.

The second point of contention is perhaps even more worrying.

"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."

That's some pretty open-ended wording there. By virtue of simply being a Facebook partner, Facebook will be able to have access to your information and activities. And it might not matter whether you're aware of that association either.

And that, perhaps, is the clincher. Not many might be aware, for example, that the likes of Instagram, WhatsApp, or Oculus are now owned by Facebook. And not many might be aware that Facebook has partnered with someone to get access to your data. Caspar said that he will consult with his other European colleagues to see what can be done to prevent Facebook from overreaching its boundaries.

SOURCE: Facebook

VIA: The Register