Facebook to allow access to users' addresses and phone numbers

Facebook has confirmed that it will carry on with plans to provide user information such as address and phone numbers to third parties, despite concerns previously being raised by members of congress in the US.

The scheme was originally planned back in January, causing congressmen and privacy experts alike to lose their rag over third party developers’ access to information.

Facebook subsequently put the idea on hold just a few days later in after a barrage of condemnation in order to review that way that information was given over by users.

Now it has been revealed in a PDF letter that Facebook will continue to allow access to specific information upon confirmation from the users.

“A photo-printing application that prints photos for a user requests permission specifically to access a user’s photo; a social-gaming application that allows users to play a game with his or her friends requests permission to access the user’ friends list,” Marne Levine, vice president for global public policy at Facebook explained.

Furthermore, Facebook claims that it adequately informs the user prior to any information being handed over to third parties, and that there is no encouragement from the site itself to hand over any details.

Another area of concern that Levine also sought to address in the letter was the issue of access to information provided by children.  

In addition to not allowing under 13s on the site, Levine highlighted that there were considerations for whether or not older children should be able to hand over information to third parties at all.

It was a suggestion that congressman Ed Markey seemed relatively content with.

“I don’t believe that applications on Facebook should get this information from teens, and I encourage Facebook to wall off access to teen’s contact information if they enable this new feature,” Markey said.

“Facebook has indicated that the feature is still a work in progress, and I will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that sensitive personal user data, especially those belonging to children and teenagers, are protected.”

However Daniel Hamilton of Big Brother Watch told Techeye that such measures are not necessarily enough to deter younger users from continuing to access content.

“I’m not convinced that this will have much of an effect.  It is so easy for kids to put a bogus date of birth in or start a fake account should they wish to access a particular bit of content.”

“While this may sound like a good effort to parents it seems as though this is window dressing without any real action.”