Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

10/19/2010
12:20 PM
50%
50%

Congressmen Poke Facebook Over Privacy Breaches

Reps. Markey, Barton demand answers on what the social network knew about unauthorized disclosure of user ID numbers and what it plans to do about it.

Best Mobile Apps For Busy Professionals
(click image for larger view)
Best Mobile Apps For Busy Professionals
In response to the recent revelations of another privacy breach at Facebook, Congress is again asking questions of the social media giant.

U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) on Monday sent Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a letter pressing the company to release more details about the way in which applications handle user information. The two congressmen were prompted to act after results of Wall Street Journal investigation discovered privacy breaches affected tens of millions of users, even those who adjusted their settings to the strictest settings possible.

All 10 of the most popular apps on Facebook shared Facebook members' user ID numbers (UIDs) with outside companies, and three of the top 10 Facebook apps, such as Farmville, shared information about users' friends, too. In a post to its developer blog on Sunday, Facebook downplayed the privacy impact, even as it promised to take steps to prevent reoccurrences.

But the two politicians want more. Barton is a ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Policy, and Markey is chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee.

"Given the number of current users, the rate at which that number grows worldwide, and the age range of Facebook users, combined with the amount and nature of information these users place in Facebook's trust, this series of breaches of consumer privacy is a cause for concern," the legislators wrote. "As I am sure you are aware, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is the primary House panel for oversight of consumer privacy. As I am sure you are also aware, comprehensive privacy legislation is currently pending before the Committee."

Markey and Barton asked Facebook to respond to 18 questions by Oct. 27. The congressmen's questions include the number of users impacted by the privacy breaches; the specific nature of the data transmitted from the third-party applications; when Facebook knew of the breaches; whether or not Facebook notified users of the breaches; which Facebook terms were violated; the number of third-party applications in violation; the procedures and guidelines Facebook has in place to detect and prevent this type of breach; whether similar breaches have occurred in the past; whether Facebook receives remuneration of any kind as a result of data-sharing with ad or tracking companies; whether Facebook will proactively seek the deletion of users' personal information from Internet and ad companies' databases; the extent to which minors' information was breached; the extent to which medical and financial data was breached, and any policy or procedural changes Facebook plans to ensure users have better control over their data and over their use of third-party apps, according to the letter.

Facebook responded over the weekend by blocking access to one game developer, Lolapps, but restored access shortly thereafter.

"Press reports have exaggerated the implications of sharing a UID," wrote Facebook engineer Mike Vernal. "Knowledge of a UID does not enable anyone to access private user information without explicit user consent. Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Black Hat Q&A: Hacking a '90s Sports Car
Black Hat Staff, ,  11/7/2019
The Cold Truth about Cyber Insurance
Chris Kennedy, CISO & VP Customer Success, AttackIQ,  11/7/2019
6 Small-Business Password Managers
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  11/8/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprise
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprise
Security leaders are struggling to understand their organizations risk exposure. While many are confident in their security strategies and processes, theyre also more concerned than ever about getting breached. Download this report today and get insights on how today's enterprises assess and perceive the risks they face in 2019!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2011-5271
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-12
Pacemaker before 1.1.6 configure script creates temporary files insecurely
CVE-2014-3599
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-12
HornetQ REST is vulnerable to XML External Entity due to insecure configuration of RestEasy
CVE-2014-7143
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-12
Python Twisted 14.0 trustRoot is not respected in HTTP client
CVE-2018-18819
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-12
A vulnerability in the web conference chat component of MiCollab, versions 7.3 PR6 (7.3.0.601) and earlier, and 8.0 (8.0.0.40) through 8.0 SP2 FP2 (8.0.2.202), and MiVoice Business Express versions 7.3 PR3 (7.3.1.302) and earlier, and 8.0 (8.0.0.40) through 8.0 SP2 FP1 (8.0.2.202), could allow creat...
CVE-2019-18658
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-12
In Helm 2.x before 2.15.2, commands that deal with loading a chart as a directory or packaging a chart provide an opportunity for a maliciously designed chart to include sensitive content such as /etc/passwd, or to execute a denial of service (DoS) via a special file such as /dev/urandom, via symlin...