In a strange bit of timing, The UK Government made an accusation having Facebook to blame for the death of Lee Rigby last year at the hands of terrorists, the social network has therefore made some adjustments to its terms and conditions concerning privacy.
The declaration entitled “Updating Our Terms and Policies: Helping You Understand How Facebook Works and How to Control Your Information” information on how users will be impacted by these changes. Facebook’s Major concern is making sure users know about the Privacy Basics feature which is a kind of guide on how-to use privacy. The information others can see about you, how they can relate with you and what you yourself can see. Essentially, Advises on how you can customize your experience to get the levels of privacy that suit you best.
The remaining part of the statement explain the various changes that have been implemented within the year, and could be seen by some as an opportunity to fend off any reaction of criticism following the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report.
The most relevant part, given the accusations in that report of withholding information about a potential terrorist and the willpower of the Government to introduce regulation to force companies such as Facebook to keep records which tie users to specific devices which would be details of location information gathering.
Policies concerning location information have been updated to ensure users are conscious of the information already collected based on the features they decide to use. Of course, there is no mention of the potential for such information to be used by intelligence services, nor is there any suggestion that it could routinely be used in this way.
Instead, it’s more about making it clear what information you see as a user when using these features, and what information others users see about you. It also explains the fact that Facebook will ask for permission when using smartphone location data in conjunction with features such as check-in or adding location information to every updates.
The statement concludes that “protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do, and we believe these announcements are an important step” which is encouraging based on the cynical accusations made in the ISC report.
We hope that Facebook continues to hold such attitude towards privacy; it’s definitely not perfect but bending to government’s pressure of playing the terrorism card would only make things much uneasy for all of us..