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Real Change Underway At Facebook Regarding Consumers' Privacy?

From the New York Times Bits technology blog:

"Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Chris Kelly, is widely expected to take a leave of absence to run for attorney general of California in 2010. A Facebook spokeswoman said on Tuesday that the company had hired Timothy D. Sparapani, a senior lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, to become its director of public policy, a new position. At the A.C.L.U., Mr. Sparapani worked on issues including national ID cards, data mining, open government and E-Verify, the Internet system employers use to check an employee’s immigration status. Perhaps most important for Facebook, Mr. Sparapani has deep ties to some of its loudest critics at organizations like the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Digital Democracy, which have been raising alarms about Facebook’s increasingly precise ad-targeting technology and its controversially revised terms of service agreement."

The MediaPost Daily Online Examiner reported:

"Jeff Chester, who heads the privacy group Center for Digital Democracy, called Sparapani "an honorable and skillful lobbyist and privacy advocate... It's a smart move on their part... In some ways, it's like bringing a potential critic in-house." The Center for Digital Democracy also says Facebook needs to elaborate on how it will share information about users with outsiders. "Users need to know how third-party developers use the data accessed or collected, including how the data is used for advertising and marketing..."

Does this signal a sincere change at Facebook, or is Facebook trying to "buy goodwill?" The first clue will be how long Sparapani stays at Facebook.


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