Should users of the new Facebook Home App be concerned about infringements of their privacy rights?
Facebook is often at the centre of Privacy advocates’ debates. It was only a few months ago that Facebook unveiled its Graph Search which already created a controversy around Privacy issues. And with Home, unveiled on the 4th April, Facebook is testing the limits of Privacy.
Although Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised at the launch that the software will not invade user’s privacy, the concern remains.
How does Home work?
Facebook Home software is essentially a wrapper that sits on top of the Android operating system. Home will automatically show updates on home screen and lock screen. Users will be able to double-tap to like and there will also be an emphasis on Messaging app, called Chat Heads, which combines SMS and Facebook messages. Home also contains an App drawer that shows users’ favourite apps.
What information will Facebook Home be able to find out about you compared to the current Facebook app?
See the comparative table below to learn what information is collected by Facebook.
Facebook Home preinstalled in your device
|Location tracking||Yes, Tracking||Yes, Tracking(can be turned off from phone settings)||Yes, Tracking(can be turned off from phone settings)|
|Personal data(Name, address…)||All||All||All|
|Which app you use?||No||Yes(maintains a list of the apps that you have in the Home app launcher)||Yes(maintains a list of the apps that you have in the Home app launcher)|
|Which notification you receive from your no Facebook apps?||No||No||Yes(Information about the notification (such as which app is generating them) but not the content of the notification itself. Identifying information is removed from this data after 90 days)|
|All info concerning your interaction with Facebook (like, click on ads, comments, messages…)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Other information on how you use Facebook services||Yes||Yes||Yes|
You will also find interesting the following blog post from Facebook: http://newsroom.fb.com/News/599/Answering-Your-Questions-on-Home-and-Privacy
Does Facebook Home raise new privacy issues other than those already raised by the current Facebook app?
There are no new privacy issues in the sense that Facebook is already using its users’ information without giving the user knowledge of exactly what information is being collected, as well as denying control over the users’ own information once collected.
However, Home will collect even more information that it already does, as outlined on the table above.
What should Facebook attitude be towards Privacy of its users?
As a lawyer, I would improve transparency by giving users the right to know which information Facebook collects and what is actually done with users’ info. Users should also have more control over what users’ information Facebook can or cannot use.
We cannot really say at this moment in time if Facebook Home will bring any infringements of the privacy of its users. However, we must keep in mind that the more information is shared, the bigger is the possibility to have privacy issues. It appears that as we are heading towards the world of Big Data, data sharing is increasingly inevitable.
Legal Adviser @ DMI