Facebook’s intent of allowing third party applications access to users’ phone numbersand addresses is now receiving attention from Capitol Hill. In a letter to Mark Zuckerberglast Wednesday, Democratic senators, Al Franken, Chuck Schumer, Sheldon Whitehouse,and Richard Blumenthal, said that this emerging policy, despite asking users’ permission,presents “serious dangers.”
“The changes Facebook is contemplating would allow countless application developers to accessa vast repository of information with just one or two clicks from a user’s mouse,” they continued.”In our opinion, the risks presented by these changes are too high–especially for thirteen orfourteen year olds who may have no conception of the consequences for disclosing this kind of information.”
Facebook initially announced their plans in a blog post on January 14th. However, publicunhappiness towards the announcement led to delaying the policy’s release. Regardless,Facebook is not in any way considering retracting its newest data mining feature:
“We have not yet decided when or in what manner we will re-deploy the permission for mobilenumbers and addresses,” wrote Facebook Vice President of Global Public Policy MarneLevine. “We are evaluating whether and how we can increase the visibility of applications’requests for permission to access user contact information. We are also considering whetheradditional user education would be helpful.”
Despite “additional user education,” 13 million of Facebook’s 147 million American users arebetween the ages of 13 and 17. The senators noted that younger users “may not understand thepotential implications of letting apps access their data.” Read Facebook’s 26 page response to the FTC here.