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
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-0404
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
SAP Enable Now, before version 1911, leaks information about network configuration in the server error messages, leading to Information Disclosure.
CVE-2019-0405
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
SAP Enable Now, before version 1911, leaks information about the existence of a particular user which can be used to construct a list of users, leading to a user enumeration vulnerability and Information Disclosure.
CVE-2019-0395
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform (Fiori BI Launchpad), before version 4.2, allows execution of JavaScript in a text module in Fiori BI Launchpad, leading to Stored Cross Site Scripting vulnerability.
CVE-2019-0398
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
Due to insufficient CSRF protection, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform (Monitoring Application), before versions 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3, may lead to an authenticated user to send unintended request to the web server, leading to Cross Site Request Forgery.
CVE-2019-0399
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
SAP Portfolio and Project Management, before versions S4CORE 102, 103, EPPM 100 and CPRXRPM 500_702, 600_740, 610_740; unintentionally allows a user to discover accounting information of the Projects in Project dashboard, leading to Information Disclosure.