Thursday, April 8, 2010

Consumer group urges users to ditch Facebook

Anti-Facebook feelings in Germany grew Wednesday as a major consumer group urged people to abandon the social networking website unless it scraps planned changes to its privacy policy.

"If protection of your personal data is important to you, we can only advise users to oppose the planned changes, and together with their friends to choose another provider," said the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBZ), an umbrella group for 42 German consumer associations.

The call followed an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg this week from Ilse Aigner, consumer affairs minister, threatening to delete her Facebook account in protest at the US firm's "astounding" plans.

The VZBZ said that Facebook should have to ask its 400 million users worldwide for approval every time personal information is passed on to third parties, via an "opt-in" option.

At present, Facebook and other operators have an "opt-out" option, whereby users are forced to go through a laborious and time-consuming process to stop private information being given to others, it said.

"Responsibility for respecting data protection lies with the provider, not with the consumer," the group said.

Facebook issued last month updated privacy guidelines saying that it would "occasionally" need to provide general user information to "pre-approved third party websites and applications" accessed by Facebook members while logged on.

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