Last month, Facebook told developers they’d be able to get users’ current address and mobile-phone numbers. Even though the feature would ha…

Last month, Facebook told developers they’d be able to get users’ current address and mobile-phone numbers. Even though the feature would have required getting explicit permission from users, apparently it didn’t go over too well in some parts. Three days later, Facebook put the feature on hold while it works on a better procedure to make it explicit to users when exactly they’re granting access to their most direct contact information.

But now two members of Congress want to know more about these plans-the Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the Congressional Privacy Caucus sent Mark Zuckerberg a letter asking for a lot more detail about his plans for user phone numbers and addresses.

The co-chairs, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), have 11 different questions they’ve posed to Zuckerberg. Once this new sharing feature is re-enabled, they want to know exactly what will be shared-and they want to know a lot more about how Facebook came up with this idea in the first place.

Among other things, Barton and Markey would like Facebook to explain how it decided to suspend the rollout of this feature in the first place. And if users opt in once, will they be able to have that information deleted if they later decide that sharing was a bad idea?

There’s also an undertone of annoyance that Facebook would go ahead and roll out such a feature given that the company acknowledged last year that sharing Facebook User IDs with app developers did raise privacy issues. The company told the same two Congressmen in October that it was “in the process of making a technical change to address the issue.” If Facebook saw the light and realized that User IDs were sensitive info, how could it think that users’ home addresses and mobile phone numbers-“even more sensitive information” than a User ID-should be easily accessed by developers?

Facebook has until Feb. 23 to answer the letter. Given the tone of the letter-and the fact that online privacy is quickly becoming a topic of interest among both parties on Capitol Hill-this is one feature that Facebook might be putting on ice for awhile.

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  1. I say we start to bring FB to trial as an accomplice to the murders of women by stalkers & the kidnapping of cute little kids by pedophile groups as a result of Facebook’s utter disdain for privacy.

  2. Nobody should be surprised that this is happening, given the capitalist mindset so prevalent in America and the vast userbase of FaceBook. The names, phone numbers, and addresses of millions of users are essentially a goldmine, waiting to be tapped by relatively dishonest business practices and trickery. While FaceBook may guarantee that users will never have to pay for access, they can no longer claim that their website is “safe” to use. Personally, I can’t imagine what would happen if app developers were to get ahold of the phone number to my Virgin Mobile cell phone, which charges per text message and phone call received.

  3. While I definitely don’t want facebook apps (or app developers… but that’s really a misnomer) to get access to my personal information without me giving explicit access to it, what I fail to understand is what does Congress have to do with it?

    It’s pretty easy: if you don’t want your data at risk of becoming public and misused DON”T PUT IT ON THE INTERNET! It’s really as simple as that. We’ve seen major private data leaks from banks, universities, government agencies and we’re worried about facebook? What needs to happen is a campaign explaining people that every “private” e-mail they send, has a good chance of becoming public. Every “private” photo they post on a site or they share with a few friends only, can become visible to all. Every personal information they share with a social network, bank, government institution, can become available to everyone or to a subset of identity thieves at some point. Whether it happens through a company’s desire to make money off that data, or mishandling of privacy and security it doesn’t really matter. But if the intrinsic risk is understood by everyone, then everyone can make informed decisions about what they choose to share.

    I share a lot online, and I definitely don’t want to share certain things with everyone. But I know that may happen without my knowledge and when that happens I’ll take measures with the source of the leak directly. I definitely do not want Congress or government play the good cop when they can’t clean up their own practices.

  4. Who the hell puts their cell number and address on facebook?

  5. It would be a good thing as long as the permission system is ‘sound’. They should only provide it to ‘trusted partners’.

    So when you get Skype or Google Voice on your TV set in your living room…. do you want to retype all of your phone numbers to make a call? or do you want to just type your FB user/pass and see your phonebook? You certainly do not want to store your numbers on the TV in your living room do you?

  6. We’re getting close to the days when people will simply put their 7 digit phone number right onto their car’s license plate! Lot’s of calls! No problem!
    Have you seen this site?:
    Search for yourself and see what comes up.

  7. What happened to the days of personal responsibility? Do you mean that me as an adult are responsible for my own actions and keeping my own information off of a social website? Noooo that can’t be! Bring Facebook to trial? For what? If your child is on facebook and you don’t like it, maybe as a parent you should DO something about it! Oh my god did you say parenting? Whats that? I would tell these kinds of people to get a life but how about you first try getting involved in your childs life first! SMH

  8. “I say we start to bring FB to trial as an accomplice to the murders of women by stalkers & the kidnapping of cute little kids by pedophile groups as a result of Facebook’s utter disdain for privacy.”

    Well, seeing as how there’s no evidence for these “pedophile groups”, and that adult women should know better than to make their phone # publicly available, that would be a little foolish.

  9. The fact that Zoogerberger was given the green light during chimpy’s dynasty attempt to ‘sell’ anything he wanted, to anybody he wanted, any time (under the Patriot Act), this may have been their thinking. I’m sure that chimpy and darth told them to go ahead as part of a larger intelligence program.

    SO, Zoogerberger was just doing what he was told he could do…. Let him whine from SuperMax.

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