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One Little Victory – for Online Privacy

Recently there have many claims by job seekers that they have been asked to provide their personal login credentials for their Facebook accounts. After much public outcry from potential employees and several complaints that were filed, it initially seemed that Facebook was threatening legal action to protect its 845 million users by either getting politicians to pass a law stopping this practice, or by suing employers outright who are shown to have asked persons to divulge their information.

freddie mercury victory

Facebook then decided not to pursue this course of action. Following this disappointing decision by Facebook, House Republicans also voted down a bill that would have prevented employers from doing asking for login credentials.

While some Maryland took steps to protect individuals from being asked for private, sensitive information, the ACLU seemed to be the only group willing to deem these practices as a blatant invasion of privacy. They even went so far as to produce a video called "Want a Job? Password, please!"

According to thehill.com, it seems now that a bill titled: "The Social Networking Online Protection Act" introduced by Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) would prohibit current or potential employers from demanding a username or password to a social networking account.

They bill was summarized with the following statment:

"We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private," Engel said in a statement. "No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world."

Ars adds, "The bill would apply the same prohibitions to colleges, universities, and K-12 schools. … Facebook has already threatened legal action against organizations who require employees to reveal their Facebook passwords as policy."

It would appear that many states are getting on board with the new laws to protect their citizens. Many feel that the bill will be successfully passed this time as it is a bill of its own and not an amendment to an existing bill that would have attempted to reform FCC procedures. Certainly we have not heard the end of this and if this bill fails, then a large public outcry will surely be inevitable. But if it passes it will certainly be more than One Little Victory!

(On a side note I have been looking for a way to incorporate a tune from Rush into my blog post for sometime…but I also get to mix Queen meme with Rush :-)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:30 am on May 2, 2012


 

Google Wi-Spy FCC Report Revealed

Following up on a previous blog post, Google has released an FCC report detailing the Street View Probe controversy that has been plaguing the Search giant in what has been dubbed the "Wi-Spy scandal." The report details the FCC’s findings into the investigation of the collection and storage of data by Google from millions of households across the US while operating specially equipped cars for its street view service.

Google Privacy

The initially released report has many redacted blackouts after arguing with the FCC over what details could be releases to the public. An updated release only black outs the names of individuals and raises many new questions about how Google captured personal data for over two years. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed two requests to obtain an un-retracted version of the FCC’s report with the Justice Department.

Google stated previously the cars were attempting to record Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless activity and that any collection of personal data was “inadvertent.” The code was written in 2006 and provided a snapshot of online activity as the Google cars drove by when utilized in 2008 and continued until 2010. This practice was dubbed “wardriving” and its disclosure caused a large uproar in the US and Europe.

"The report points the finger at a rogue engineer who, it says, intentionally wrote software code that captured payload data information –communication over the Internet including emails, passwords and search history — from unprotected wireless networks, going beyond what Google says it intended. The engineer invoked his 5th Amendment right and declined to speak to the FCC."

What the FCC and millions of Americans want to know is whether the engineers and managers of the Street View project knew that data was being collected or if not, why didn’t they know? Following is a breakdown of the investigations highlights:

  • According to the report, the engineer in question did speak to two other engineers and a senior project manager regarding the data collection.
  • The engineer also submitted a copy of the document to the entire Street View team in October 2006 in which stated that Google would be collecting this data.
  • Those working on Street View told the FCC they had no knowledge that payload data was being collected.
  • Managers of the Street View program said they did not read the 2006 document.
  • A different engineer says he remembered receiving the document but did not recall any reference to the collection of data.
  • Another engineer while debugging the code did notice the software was designed to capture data.
  • A senior manager said he preapproved the document before it was written.
  • Street View team members told investigators that engineers on the project were permitted to modify the code without approval from managers.
  • The FCC accuses Google of withholding an email discussing the engineer’s review of the payload data with a senior manager of the Street View project.
  • Google maintains that it did not authorize the collection of personal data.
  • Google denies that it stonewalled the investigation and that any delays were caused by the FCC.

"We decided to voluntarily make the entire document available except for the names of individuals," Google spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said in an emailed statement. "While we disagree with some of the statements made in the document, we agree with the FCC’s conclusion that we did not break the law. We hope that we can now put this matter behind us."

  • Google first denied it collected the data.
  • Google then stated that they were only collecting "fragments of data"
  • Google admits that it had intercepted emails, passwords, search history and apologizes.
  • Google temporarily grounds Street View car fleet.
  • Google appoints a director of privacy to oversee project, trains employees in “responsible collection and handling of data” and incorporates more stringent privacy safeguards.
  • FCC begins its investigation in October 2010 as the FTC completes its inquiry.
  • Justice Department investigated and closed its inquiry in May 2011.
  • The engineer in question in the report was involved with Street View as a side project and stated that he was interested in collecting data from unencrypted wireless networks to determine if it could be used in other Google products or services.
  • The engineer dismissed privacy concerns stating that vehicles would not be in the proximity of "any given user for an extended period of time." He did have a note in which stated that he should discuss the matter further with a product council.
  • The report does state that the data was reviewed by the engineer to identify frequently visited website to determine how much people were using Google search but states that it was not pursued due to being told that the data had no value.

The FCC has debated whether Google’s actions violated the US wiretapping laws and considered charging Google with a violation of the Communications Act but stated that there was no legal precedent to do so as Wi-Fi technology did not exist when the Act was established. The FCC states that they still have "significant factual questions" as to why the data was ever collected.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:10 pm on April 30, 2012

Categories:Google,Privacy

 

Week One with Google Drive

Well Google Drive has been making a lot of headlines about ownership of files, depth of file privacy, virus scanning, archive support, etc.. etc..

One item I have not seen anyone mention is the installer/login system that Google Drive is using.

As an SEO who has to be able to test a multitude of browser versions, I’ve managed to work myself into a neat situation where each time IE is called upon to render something I get a warning message about the version I have installed.

The warning message is great because it lets me know when an application is cheating and using IE for displaying information vs. using default system calls built into windows. The most common application I see doing this is VMWare’s ESX console which has a very graphical summary of the virtual devices.

So imagine my amusement yesterday when installing Google Drive and seeing this:

Google Drive using IE
“O RLY?”

Ownership of Files

A certain technical news source (rhymes with SEENET) that’s famous for publishing outright false information, misleading articles, and brainless technical pieces, one-up’d itself yesterday by trying to scare people away from Google Drive by publishing a hard hitting new post about Google Drive an it’s terms of service.

Picard Face Palm

In order to make the story work however, they had to omit the first sentence of the section they were complaining about. Anything less wouldn’t make the post seem worth writing, much-less reading. After considerable hate from readers they actually had the nerve to ‘tack on’ the honest truth, at the very bottom of the post, instead of removing it entirely due to it being completely worthless.

The bottom line with Google and privacy is that NOBODY would use them if they abused your trust so you can rest assured that Google is doing everything they can to keep your files safe. The clauses in the TOS that state Google has rights to your files is clearly there so they can more accurately provide services that interest you.

If you take a lot of high resolution photos of animals, Google knows you work with animals. If you upload videos of cars on a race track, Google can guess you like race cars. Etc..

I’d much rather have my screen space wasted with info about the next WRC event than see a bunch of adverts for a local dog grooming outfit (I don’t hate animals, but I also don’t have pets).

File Privacy

Lots of folks are wondering how private the files are in a Google Drive.

The truth is that unless you’ve changed something from the defaults, every file uploaded is private to you. You can share files and folders with a few clicks, and there’s multiple options for how files are shared (read-only, contribute, full control), but it’s up to you to manually allow sharing.

One fellow even claimed that Google Drive was modifying the JPG files uploaded from his digital camera!?

I tested this on my own this morning with a 5.8MB .JPG @ 3968 x 2976 resolution. Yes, indeed, if I choose to view or preview the image Google isn’t going to waste my time viewing a 6MB .JPG, and instead it renders a much smaller preview to get the image on my screen quickly.

However if I choose to download the image I get the exact same file I uploaded with no changes whatsoever, EXIF data included!

Archive Support

So far I’ve had no problems with .RAR and .ZIP archives in Google Drive, and I have the option of opening the archives which means downloading individual files inside an archive is very easy. I’ve only tested Google Drive with Windows and Ubuntu so far, but as expected it’s making things very easy to share between the machines and the OSes.

.7z (7ZIP) support is not enabled yet, but at the moment the format isn’t very widely used so I doubt many users will mind the fact that you have to download the whole archive vs. opening it on-line. Obviously anti-virus scanning isn’t available on archives that aren’t supported.

Protected archives are also supported in that you can browse the unencrypted contents, but Google Drive doesn’t make any attempts to get passwords out of you, which should help with all the tin-foil-beanie types.

Limitations of Use

This one is yet to be determined. Google clearly won’t allow you to upload a 4.7GB DVD and then share it public with no limits, that would be amazingly poor insight from a company that takes great efforts to plan each move.

How much ‘sharing’ you can get away with seems to be an unanswered question at the moment, but given the lazy pirates around the globe I’m sure someone’s going to put this to the test immediately.

Another rumour floating around is that the largest single file you can store on Google Drive is 10GB. While that’s a MASSIVE file allowance for a single file, it still seems odd that such a cap would exist since you would have to be a paid user at that point. Since the cost of trying the commercial version is very low I’m going to give it a whirl and see what I find.

More to come!

Beanstalk Minecraft Map Contest!

I haven’t been flogging this very much, which is bad form given my profession, but we still have a glorious brand new Android tablet with Minecraft PE installed to give away!

How do you win this approx ~$300 prize? You play a video game, and you have fun creating a map that will be displayed and recognized by fellow gamers on our website. Yeah, life is rough eh?

Our initial contest winner of the $50 prize, Faragilus from the Ukraine, got his prize this week and we will be featuring his work with the rest of the winners at the end of the contest.

For more information please look at the original post here: Beanstalk Minecraft 1.2 Contest

PPS: I know this is a REALLY long post today but I had to toss in a Google Chrome video that really is neat. While Microsoft is spending time and money trying mock it’s competition, Google’s having fun with demonstrating it’s products and how they help people on-line connect in real life.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:06 pm on April 26, 2012


 

Bursting Personalization Filter Bubbles

filter bubble

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the Google filter bubbles. The premise is that due to personalization features becoming an important part of how we interact on the web as well as the content that is displayed to us. Links that we tend to click more readily given a higher priority in our search results, whereas those that don’t get click on fade into the ether. The inherent danger with this process is that we do not readily gain access to or are shown all the other websites that the internet has to offer.

The personalization of the modern web removes this diversification and creates a self-based bias (usually unbeknownst to the user), putting is in a narrow loop of information known as the "filter bubble."

MS patent

Microsoft’s Facebook partnership along with the Bing search engine has already allowed for the incorporation of the preferences of users friends into the returned search results. A new patent application from Microsoft describes a "user-following engine" that would not only analyze a users posts on Facebook, Twitter and other connected social networks to deduce a users mood, interests, education level and comprehension of specific topics. The new system would automatically adjust the users search experience and results based on this information to better align with these social signals.

Although the patent was filed in 2010, the details have just been made public. At this point there is no indication that Microsoft plans to move ahead with the patent, but if personalization results are where the net is taking us, I just hope that browsers will allow a user to disable the personalization filters with the click of a button. I think the biggest concern over personalization is where is it taking us? It seems to me that there is a fine line between an enhanced user experience and a decidedly Orwellian future.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:00 am on April 23, 2012


 

Google Drive is going nowhere but is still moving

I swear there’s Google staffers who are so devoted to the projects they are working on that they don’t know what the rest of the company is developing.
One hand does not know what the other is doing.
If I was working on self driving car technology I think that the last thing I’d do is call my on-line storage solution ‘Google Drive’, but that’s exactly what they are doing and it’s coming out next week.

For old-school nerds, this might seem boring. GMailFS came out years ago an it allowed GMail users to add a ‘GMail’ drive as a file system in your PC. Anything you drag over to the GMail drive would be uploaded to your GMail account as hidden email messages with attachments. Browsing the GMail drive on any internet connected PC would show you all your files and you could copy/delete/upload from any location. It was actually pretty handy.

Sadly GMail’s technical staff saw the potential nightmare that would arise if something changed with these ‘special hidden messages’ and quickly moved to block the GMailFS tool from working before it became too popular.

Everyone using GMailFS knew it was a hack, against the EULA for GMail, and so the move to block it wasn’t a big stink, more of a ‘bummer’ moment like when they realize they forgot to increase the price of your favourite soda in the school’s vending machine and then fix it.

Also, while Gmail offers almost 8GB of storage, using it for files could cause mail interruptions if you were to max it out trying to copy some files between machines. Plus all your mail eats up your storage, and in my case, that means only 3486MB of storage not 5GB.

While prices aren’t available, we know all Google storage limits are expandable for paid accounts. It would only make sense, given the processing needs of email, that Google Drive will allow you to add more space to your drive for less money than you’d pay for the same storage in GMail.

Speculation is that Google Drive will have desktop integration on Windows, Android, and Mac meaning it should be as easy to use as a USB drive yet you only need to pack around your username and password.

Other operating systems will obviously have web access to the drive, that’s a “no brainer“, so even obscure versions of Linux and potentially even appliances like WebTVs will have limited access to your shared files.

Why not sign up a few friends using a DropBox referral ID and get 15GB of free space? Well if you want to use your friend’s info like that, you either hate your friends or they are really understanding. Plus DropBox doesn’t have the best track record of privacy and security; in fact it seems like the hackers lay off DropBox just long enough for it to become a ripe target and then they hack it again.

Even without the historical issues surrounding the competition, this is going to be just like G+ vs. Facebook, Skype vs. Google Voice:

  • If you use GMail you already trust Google with your most private assets, using them for files is no extra risk.
  • Google is a hardware and software solutions provider. Anything they deliver will be more advanced than the competition.
  • Google has a much larger exposure base than the competition yet a much better track record on security and data integrity.

Personally, to me this is a no-brainer, and the only questions I have are how awesome the integration will be with other services?

  • If I upload a music folder with a playlist so I can put my music onto my car-pc, can I open the playlist and stream my tunes from Google Music on my work PC?
  • If someone emails me a file and I wanted to share it with my co-workers, will GMail let me save the file to a shared folder in Google Drive?
  • If I put a huge RAW image from my DSLR camera on my Google Drive, can I open it in Picasa and share a thumbnail on G+ without making 5 copies of the same picture?
  • If something crazy happens while I’m in a Google self-driving car, can I save the last 5 minutes of exterior video to my Google Drive and then later share the pertinent time-segment of that clip on YouTube without having to upload/download?

;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:13 pm on April 17, 2012


 

Google Fined $25,000 By FCC in “Wi-Spy” Case

Gogole Car Gets Ticket

The FCC has proposed a $25,000 fine against Google on the grounds that the global search giant "deliberately impeded" their 2010 investigation into the collection of private user data through available unsecured Wi-Fi networks during its Street View mapping and did so for several months. Google stated that the data collection in question that occurred was "inadvertent" and that it had stopped the practice immediately once it had discovered that it was happening.

The FCC proposed the fine late Friday on the cusp of the deadline for taking action on the infamous "Wi-Spy" case. Google will still have an opportunity to appeal the fine before the decision becomes final. The government agency did not actually fine Google for violating the FCC’s electronic eavesdropping law in this case, stating that there simply is no precedent for applying the law to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. The FCC went on to say that Google was reluctant to cooperate in the investigation which is the reason for the fine.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal that, "We worked in good faith to answer the FCC’s question’s throughout the inquiry, and we are pleased that they have concluded that we complied with the law." A Google engineer that helped to develop the Street View technology code chose to invoke Fifth Amendment rights in order to avoid self-incrimination and refused to provide a testimony in the investigation.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:18 am on April 16, 2012


 

April Hacktivists & Conspiracies

There seems to be a lot of stories involving hacking and privacy in the headlines, so I thought I would touch base on a few that are making news.

conspiracy theory

  • With the advent of smart meter installations over the last few years, an FBI cyber intelligence briefing reveals that has stated that a series of hacks perpetrated has cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The FBI reports that this is the first known official report of criminals compromising the high-tech meters and that they expect this type of fraud it increase and to spread across the country as more utilities implement smart grid technology.
  • The Utah Department of Health has reported that on March 30th, 2012, that 181, 604 Medicaid and CHIP recipients had their personal information stolen and that 25,096 had their SSNs compromised. The hackers that perpetrated the attack appear to be located in Eastern Europe. The hackers were able to obtain client names, addresses, birthdates, doctor’s names, tax information and other sensitive client data.
  • The well known hacktivist group Anonymous has hacked several U.K. government websites over what they claim to be "draconian surveillance proposals" and the "derogation of human rights." Several sites were brought down due to the attack including the Home Office, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. The group is employing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack with multiple targets. Rather than stealing data, the Anonymous group floods servers with more incoming connection than can be accommodated, causing the website and/or server to crash. Hacktivists can also leave a backdoor open to facilitate future attacks.

…and from the conspiracy room:

conspiracy theory

  • Broadcom has just released a new microchip called the Broadcom 4752 for smartphones that will allow for ultra-accurate location determination to within a few centimeters, both vertically and horizontally, indoors and out. The chip pulls data in from a variety of sources including global navigation satellites, cell towers and Wi-Fi hot spots and incorporate data from gyroscopes, accelerometers, step counters and altimeters. The developer hopes that this "ubiquitous navigation" will be used to target offer location based advertising for prospective customers who may be shopping or passing by.
  • The U.S. government recently posted a project asking for the "Development of Tools for Extracting Information from Video Game Systems." The U.S. Navy will be paying a company a six figure salary to hack into used video game consoles in an effort of extract sensitive information for both online and offline data. They state that will only be targeting consoles belonging to oversea nations since United States law dictates that they cannot perform these actions against any U.S. persons.

Surely we live in a unique time when technology in capable of enriching our lives in so many ways; but just like any technology it can be exploited and used against us (aka 1984 by George Orwell).

I think the lesson here is not to be so frightened of technology running amuck, but rather to be selective in where you release your personal information. Tragically, the only way to truly protect ourselves is to stay completely offline which is an ironic impossibility if the age we live in.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:34 am on April 11, 2012


 

Google develops ARGs for Pirates

Google Glass

“Arrrgh! Shiver me timbers! Mizen the topsail! Be that land I see through my metal eye?!”

Okay so Google’s new Augmented Reality Glasses aren’t just for one-eyed pirates, heck even a two eyed pirate can find a use for these ‘La Forge’ inspired techno goggles.

Yesterday Google was showing off a working prototype of their Augmented Reality Glasses which have been a two year labour of love running under the code name: ‘Project Glass‘.

ARGContactLens

Until yesterday we had little info on this Google[x] project, and there was speculation that the end project might come out as a digital contact lens instead of the pair of black and white frames we are seeing demonstrated this week.

At the moment however even the frames are in the ‘styling’ phase of prototyping, looking a bit like a slice of an iPhone, with a very tiny camera hole, hooked up to a thumbnail sized display.

We also know that they have touch controls on the top of the glasses, one of which is for capturing an image of whatever is in-front of you. My guess is that the first ‘mod’ for these will be a flip down shield that ‘alarmists’ can use to guarantee nobody is spying on them.

Shut up and take my money

 
As if pictures weren’t enough to get our hands reaching for our wallets, there was also a ‘concept’ video demonstrating the Android based UI that the glasses will use to interact with the user.

After watching the video I have to wonder how they would display something in the middle of your visual perspective using a tiny little screen?

This resulted in me spending about 35 seconds bending a paper clip into the rough shape of the screen. I plopped this mock-up onto my glasses and took a look at what area the ‘display’ would have.

The current display would actually have quite a bit of space to display info, but there’s no way I can ‘see’ that it would be able to display something in the middle of your view?

Virtual retinal displays, even the most advanced laser based units, still haven’t found their way into ‘production’, even within military channels like DARPA where such a technology should be very tempting to adopt.

So for now I’m in the camp of nay-sayers who feel that the tech needs a bit more work before it can deliver what’s in the promotional video, and even then there’s certainly some kinks to work out of the system for obvious safety reasons.

Pity though, some of the style pics look so cool..
Borg version of Google Glasses

SEO news blog post by @ 11:42 am on April 5, 2012


 

Freedom and Loathing in Lost Facebook Accounts

Freedom Online?

Not if the free-loaders have any say about it, and brother, they will not shut up. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “when you cut the head off the serpent two more shall replace it“.

SOPA Hydra

True to form, each head we lop off seems to simply provoke the beast further.

In this case the latest bill the spring forth from the carnage as a likely candidate for passing (with over 100 co-sponsors) is called the Rogers-Ruppersberger bill, also known as CISPA or HR 3523.

The HR 3523 bill is so bad that it’s made the ACLU’s comparison chart of ‘Information Legislation’ bills. This PDF is an excellent way to see how each bill will effect information flow and the freedom of on-line communications.

Yes this is another ‘we must act now’ moments.. If you are growing tired of them then the only recourse is to go for the heart of the beast until it stops sticking it’s heads where they don’t belong.

Facebook Access for Employers

Did this actually happen? Has the world really gone nuts?

According to articles on-line that have been popping up all morning, Kimberly Hester, a teaching aid, has been ‘fired’ for refusing to grant access to a private photo inside her Facebook account.
Kimberly Hester
Kimberly Hester (pictured above) was called into the superintendents office to investigate claims that one of her private Facebook photos was inappropriate.

After three requests for access to her Facebook account that she refused to comply with, the decision was made to ‘presume guilt’ lacking further information, and to her employment was terminated.

The picture has made it’s way on-line and it’s just a blurry image of a co-workers pants, around her ankles. For all we know the co-worker was wearing a skirt, shorts, etc., and there’s nothing at all ‘wrong’ with the photo in terms of ‘appropriate content’.

Clearly what we have here is a school superintendent that likes to pay legal fees for trampling the rights of it’s workers?

Anyone who has read Facebook’s Terms of Service/End User Agreement knows that it’s a CLEAR violation of their policies to allow someone else to knowingly access your account. By asking Kimberly for access, the superintendent is actually risking the loss of Kimberly’s private Facebook account based on the allegation that anyone who has access might see something inappropriate.

That’s like saying that I had a friend over who saw a private picture on my mantle of what looked like a pair of naked legs in some pants, so they told my boss, and now my boss needs to fire me because I refuse to give him a key to my house so he can come over and look at things?

And finally, what is going on with the mother that had earned a ‘friendship’ status with Kimberly on Facebook? At what point do you go after someone’s job vs. speaking to them about something like a decent human being?

Bat Country
We clearly can’t stop here.. :(

SEO news blog post by @ 12:58 pm on April 3, 2012


 

Want a job? Password, please! – Facebook Won’t Sue Employers for Privacy Infringements

*UPDATE*

House Republicans Votes Down Stopping employers asking for Facebook Passwords

"House Republicans today defeated an amendment introduced yesterday that would have banned employers demanding access to Facebook accounts. While the practice isn’t widespread, it has caused a big brouhaha after reports surfaced that some organizations were requiring workers to hand over Facebook passwords as a condition of keeping their current job or getting hired for a new one."

Following up on my blog post from Monday titled: "Employer’s Asking for Facebook Credentials",
I detailed an alarming situation in which there have been many reports of employers asking potential hires for their Facebook credentials in order to check their online interactions to use as a hiring factor.

privacy cartoon

Facebook stated that doing so not only undermines the privacy and security expectations of both the user and the user’s contacts, but exposes the employer to legal liability. Furthermore Facebook legal representatives have clearly stated that sharing or soliciting a user’s login credentials is in direct violation of their Statement of Rights & Responsibilities.

"If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer for Policy Erin Egan said in a statement. "We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information. As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job."

Initially it seemed that Facebook was considering legal action to protect its 845 million users by either getting politicians to pass a law stopping this practice, or outright suing employers shown to have asked persons to divulge their information.

"Facebook takes your privacy seriously," Egan said in a statement. "We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges. While we will continue to do our part, it is important that everyone on Facebook understands they have a right to keep their password to themselves, and we will do our best to protect that right."

Until this statement, the only advocacy group willing to protect Facebook users was the American Civil Liberties Association which has deemed these practices as an invasion of privacy and has released this video on YouTube called: "Want a job? Password, please!" in response. The video details the a scenario in which a corrections officer said he required to turn over his Facebook credential or risk failing recertification to that would allow him to work in the state’s prison system.

"It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process," ACLU attorney Catherine Crump said in a statement. "People are entitled to their private lives. You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It’s equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s private social media account."

In an updated statement, Erin Egan clarified their previous statement that while it wants to protect its users from employers demanding access to their accounts, they currently have no plans to sue any employers for any such actions.

"We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think its right the thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users."

While the practice of asking employees for private information has been occurring for a few years, it seems that recent events have helped to rekindle the controversy over online privacy and the need to protect the rights of individuals.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:36 am on March 28, 2012

Categories:Facebook,Privacy

 

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