In a strange bit of timing, considering the accusations made by the UK Government over Facebook being somehow to blame for the death of Lee Rigby at the hands of terrorists last year, the social network has made changes to its terms and conditions regarding privacy.
The statement entitled “Updating Our Terms and Policies: Helping You Understand How Facebook Works and How to Control Your Information” details how users will be impacted by these changes. Much of this is concerned with making sure users know about the Privacy Basics feature which is a kind of how-to guide to use privacy. This details what others can see about you, how they can interact with you and what you yourself can see. Importantly, it also advises how you can customise your experience to get the levels of privacy that suit you best.
The rest of the statement goes into the various changes that have been made during the year so far, and could be seen by some as an opportunity to fend off any backlash of criticism following the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report today.
The most pertinent part, given the accusations in that report of withholding information about a potential terrorist and the determination of the Government to introduce legislation to force companies such as Facebook to keep records which tie users to specific devices, would be details of location information gathering.
Policies regarding location information have been updated to ensure users are aware of what is already collected based on the features they decide to use. Of course, there is no mention of the potential for such information to be used by intelligence services, nor is there any suggestion that is could routinely be used in this way.
Instead, it’s more about making it clear what information you see when using these features, and what information others see about you. It also clarifies the fact that Facebook will ask for permission when using smartphone location data in conjunction with features such a check-in or adding location information to postings.
The statement concludes that “protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do, and we believe these announcements are an important step” which is encouraging given the cynical accusations made in the ISC report.
Let’s hope Facebook continues to hold such a posture towards privacy; it’s certainly not perfect but bending to pressure from governments playing the terrorism card would only make things much worse for all of us…
Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.