Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Feds to Facebook Privacy Critics: Let’s Talk

walken hopperMeaningful? Or meaningless? You make the call: The Federal Trade Commission has told the group that filed a grievance about Facebook’s recent privacy changes that its “complaint raises issues of particular interest at this time.”

And that means? Hard to say.

In a letter (pdf) to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, David Vladeck, the FTC’s director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, says his agency would be happy to talk to EPIC about its concerns. But that’s about all he’s promising for now.

Just as important, Vladeck points out that he can’t and won’t say whether the FTC is formally investigating EPIC’s complaint: “Please be advised, however, that any Commission investigation is non-public until the Commission decides to issue a formal complaint or investigation. As a result, we can neither confirm nor deny that we are conducting an investigation of the issues raised by your complaint.”

So there you go. Either the Feds are taking this very seriously or they’re not.

As I’ve said before, Facebook may face some regulatory blowback for its privacy overhaul–otherwise known as the “please share as much of yourself as you can” campaign–in the U.S., and more likely, in Europe. But unless the social networking service starts hearing from  advertisers, I’m not sure how much farther this goes.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work