Wall Street Journal
SAN FRANCISCO (DOW JONES)--Facebook Inc. has told Congress it will go ahead with plans to allow third-party developers to access users' phone numbers and current addresses but still hasn't decided how it will highlight the change to its members.
In a letter to Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), the world's leading social network stressed that it will let users decide whether to give contact information to developers and websites. The Palo Alto, Calif., company said the moves were in line with its standard permissions policy.
In a letter dated Feb. 23, Facebook noted the company is still unsure of how it would highlight to users that they were being asked to provide their contact details: personal data that is considered more sensitive than other information users may share.
"We have not yet decided when or in what manner we will redeploy the permission for mobile numbers and addresses," the letter states. "We are evaluating whether and how we can increase the visibility of applications' request for permission to access user contact information."
Facebook's letter was in response to an earlier letter from Markey and Barton, cochairmen of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, asking for detailed information about the social network's new feature.
In January, Facebook introduced a controversial feature that let external websites and applications access its users' current addresses and mobile phone numbers. Facebook said the change would, for example, let users share their address and phone number with a shopping site as part of a plan to streamline the checkout process. It would also allow users to sign up for up-to-the-minute alerts on special deals that would be sent to a user's mobile phone.
The social network quickly disabled that feature amid concerns from privacy advocates, who feared the change would put users at increased risk for spam, identity theft and other problems.
In a reply to Facebook dated Monday, Markey said he would continue to monitor the situation to ensure that sensitive personal user data, especially those belonging to children and teenagers, remain protected.
article on line