Facebook continues to be the subject of controversy over issues of privacy, this time because Facebook cookies were found to be accidentally tracking other sites users visited after they had logged off. The information is then sent to Facebook via the cookies, provoking concerns over users’ privacy violations.
The Federal Reserve is seeking contractors to build a tool that will monitor and analyze blogs, news reports, and social-media chatter about the central bank and its policies, with a goal of being able to use “public relations” strategies to counter the growing barrage of negative publicity. But critics quickly added to the institution’s troubled image as the news spread by lambasting the half-baked scheme as “Orwellian” spying and “intimidation.”
The navigation company OnStar is attracting strong criticism after announcing this past week that it would continue to monitor drivers’ speeds and GPS locations — and sell the information to third parties such as law enforcement — even after customers end their contracts. Outrage ensued and even U.S. lawmakers have now entered the fray.
In the wake of criticism over privacy issues on Facebook, the social network has responded by indicating it will make significant changes to its site in order to protect individual privacy. In fact, Facebook officials went so far as to pay hackers — whom they call “independent researchers” — $40,000 to find holes in the site’s security system to assure that they have addressed all issues.
Efforts by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet may become irrelevant if the new technology being developed succeeds as expected. When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the FCC last December, the FCC rewrote its rules to allow them to regulate the Internet anyway through the whitewash called “net neutrality.” Verizon immediately filed suit to overrule the new attempt, and a House subcommittee in March voted to invalidate the actions of the FCC. But the new rules remain in place until the issue is decided.