Europe, as a community and union, values the privacy of consumers considerably more than its counterparts in the United States. Much of this, however, stems from the great work done by private entities. Private entities like Europe v. Facebook.
Many people, myself included, have resigned themselves to the recognition that in this interconnected age, privacy is largely a mirage. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s promise to “do no evil” means nothing to me and the suggestion that all of my online life is safely being stored but will never come back to haunt me is utter nonsense. If you don’t want it to come back to you, don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. All that said, the work of privacy advocates and groups like Europe V. Facebook should not only not be overlooked but applauded.
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Europe V. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is an Austrian student group that was founded by meticulous document requester and researcher Max Schrems. The group has on 22 separate occasions filed complaints with the Irish Data Protection Authority against Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s European subsidiary in Ireland.
Their most recent, and certainly not their last issue with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), has to do with the March 13 redesign of Facebook’s of timeline. The group discovered that “friends of friends” were able to access all of your (users) events “attended” information even if your security settings were such that this information should never have been made public. Their biggest problem with this being the potential for political beliefs and sexual orientation to become public knowledge without the users control. There is certainly some ambiguity inherent in this data but not much. For example, perhaps I said I was going to “attend” Protest A only to get more information on the event to launch a counter-protest B.
From the release:
“Users were able to look through often times thousands of past events users were invited to, including demonstrations or gay parties.”
While this may not seem a huge problem to most, it is to many and through the group’s work, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)fixed this error within hours of Europe V. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) bringing it to their attention.
A good deal of this report would not have been possible if not for the web site Naked Security published by Sophos a developer and vendor of security software and hardware and we appreciate their efforts to keep a vigilant eye on companies entrusted with our privacy.