In my last post I talked about the hot topic of who owns users’ geolocation data that apps collect. This post I’m discussing what seems to be a perpetual hot topic: privacy. The headlines over the last few weeks have shown to be particularly full of privacy headlines.
To start, the Federal Trade Commission announced new proposed changes to the Childrens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which include stronger parental consent and data security requirements for the personally identifiable information of children. The proposed changes also include expanding the types of data covered to include geolocation data. These changes could have a big impact on social media companies, as well as application developers. For more on the proposed changes check out the FTC site, and for more on COPPA check out my post on the topic.
Facebook introduced new features at its f8 developer conference, including the new Timeline feature and integration with Spotify to allow users to share playlists. As usual, shortly after the new features were announced, the user uproar about these new features’ impact on privacy started. Among the features that upset users most were the sharing of everything from applications like Spotify and the Guardian, as well as the tracking of Facebook user data even after users logged out of the site. There have been a variety of responses to the uproar by those involved. This week Spotify announced that it was introducing a private listening feature that lets users control what information about what they are listening to is shared on Facebook. However, it did not announce an alternative to the requirement that users log in to Spotify using their Facebook account, another feature about which users were less than thrilled. Privacy advocates have also responded, with the Electronic Privacy Information Center calling this week for a Federal Trade Commission investigation of Facebook’s practice of tracking user information after they log out. It will be interesting to see how these issues shake out and how the laws may change to try and better protect user privacy.