A privacy complaint against Facebook in recent calls for “special interest” to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency wrote in a letter on Thursday made public on Tuesday.
A privacy complaint filed in December by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and nearly a dozen other privacy and consumer groups “raises a number of concerns about information sharing practices of Facebook,” wrote David Vladeck, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The complaint also “raises issues of particular interest to us right now,” said Vladeck.
Month EPIC asked the FTC to open an investigation into the privacy changes imposed by social networking site. The changes, which began rolling out on December 9, are intended to give users more control over who can access the content of their profiles. But given the extent of Facebook to a more open format because it integrates status updates with search engines like Bing, the site encourages users to get more from their public data, resulting confusion about what really public.
Despite the interest “of the FTC” in the subject, the letter does not translate into a formal investigation. “Any Commission’s investigation is not public until the Commission decides to issue a formal complaint or close the investigation,” wrote Vladeck. “As a result, we can neither confirm nor deny that we are conducting an investigation into issues raised by the complaint.”
Last week, EPIC filed an additional complaint that the group says it “provides further evidence of unfair trade practices and misleading public statements about Facebook CEO of Facebook, the latest version of the iPhone Facebook application, Facebook Connect, and “web-suicide ‘applications.”
“More than 300 million Facebook users have successfully revised their privacy settings and routinely using our editor privacy controls to decide who sees the content since the moment they share it,” said a spokesman Facebook said in a statement. “New EPIC letter offers little or no new information to support the claims they make.”
The FTC said it would host a roundtable on the privacy of Jan. 28 in Berkeley, California, “where [the FTC] will discuss business models and emerging technologies and their impact on consumer privacy, including network services social. ”
Vladeck also instructed Maneesh Mittal, associate director in the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, to “monitor and set up a meeting” with EPIC.
Someone who is investigating the social networks, however, Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commission of Canada. Stoddart, announced on Monday that his office is examining online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers by companies – including sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.
In August, an investigation of Stoddart’s office calls to reinforce their Facebook privacy notices and embark on a year’s review of its development platform.