Dems ask Facebook to halt dev data leaks

Posted by Starr Keshet

Four Democratic senators have asked Facebook to halt a plan that, if implemented, will allow app devs to access phone numbers and addresses belonging to members of the popular social networking site.

"Anyone with ten minutes, $25, and a Facebook user's phone number and address and no other information can obtain a breathtaking amount of information about that Facebook user - and that Facebook user's family, friends, neighbors, and landlord," wrote Sens. Al Franken (Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse, (R.I.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a letter obtained by The Hill.

Dems ask Facebook to halt dev data leaks"Combined with a targeted Google search, these two pieces of information can allow someone to obtain almost all of the information necessary to complete a loan or credit card application. It is hard to contemplate all of the different ways in which this information could be abused."

However, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes insisted there was "great value" in letting people choose to share information about themselves on Facebook - just as they voluntarily registered information on other web sites.

"Despite rumors, apps and external websites cannot access a user's address or phone number from Facebook without that user's permission," said Noyes.



"People are always in control of what information they share through our service."

Nevertheless, the Democratic quartet remained unconvinced, emphasizing that shared data could be used to steal user identities.

As such, the senators asked Facebook to roll back the plan, or alternatively, block the feature from the accounts of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17.

"This is consistent with Facebook's existing practices of strengthening privacy setting for teenage users. 

"We believe that these are modest requests that will go a long way in protecting the privacy and security of millions of Americans."