Senators Urge Facebook to Change Privacy Policy

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We've written about it here before, calling it the next Facebook privacy scandal: The social networking site announced back in January that it would soon allow third-party application developers to access -- after obtaining permission -- user addresses and phone numbers. Concerned about this change, four Democratic senators convened earlier this week to send CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter urging him to reconsider the decision.

The letter, sent on March 9th and co-signed by Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken, Charles Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse, urges Zuckerberg to "block this feature for users who are 17 or younger, and to structure your permissions process to inform users of the risks of releasing their mobile phone and home address information and to allow users to access information without acceding to the applications' requests for this information." Releasing this information opens users up to all manner of identity theft risks, they go on to say:

"Anyone with ten minutes, $25, and a Facebook user's phone number and address and no other information can obtain a breathtaking amount of information about that Facebook user - and that Facebook user's family, friends, neighbors, and landlord. Combined with a targeted Google search, these two pieces of information can allow someone to obtain almost all of the information necessary to complete a loan or credit card application. It is hard to contemplate all of the different ways in which this information could be abused."

The senators ask that Facebook reverses its decision to allow contact information access to third party developers, or at least blocks access to users aged between 13 and 17.

Read the full story at Time's Techland.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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