Democrats move to regulate Facebook 

A group of Democratic Senators want to increase regulation of Facebook and other social networking sites in order to protect user privacy.

Sens. Charles Schumer, of New York, Michael Bennet, of Colorado., Mark Begich, of Alaska and Al Franken, of Minnesota sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to change the site so that information is shared with third-party sites on an “opt-in” basis,  rather than requiring users to take action to exclude themselves from data sharing outside their network of friends.

Facebook in recent weeks has made user information automatically available to other popular websites, requiring those who do not want their information shared to “opt out” by changing their settings.

Schumer said he is also looking into having the Federal Trade Commission establish privacy rules for all social networking sites, not just Facebook.

Schumer said he would consider introducing legislation to empower the FTC to make those changes.

“But right now we think they have that authority,” Schumer said.

Schumer said he first heard about the recent changes to Facebook data sharing form his daughter, who called him up and complained about them.

Facebook’s recent changes to its privacy policy run serious risk of taking control of personal information away from the user,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday.

Franken, who appeared with Schumer and Bennet at a press conference to announce the move, called the matter “a consumer protection issue.”

The letter to facebook outlines three areas the four Senators find troubling. They include Facebook’s recent expansion of publicly available data, a new policy allowing third party advertisers to store profile data indefinitely and a new “instant personalization” feature that attempts to integrate a Facebook user with other popular sites.

“I'm sure if Facebook takes a second look at how this impacts users they’ll put a premium on privacy,” Schumer said.

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Susan Ferrechio

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