Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

The Good, the Bad, and the Creepy of Facebook’s Privacy Changes The Good, the Bad, and the Creepy of Facebook’s Privacy Changes

This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Want access to this content? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation


The Good, the Bad, and the Creepy of Facebook’s Privacy Changes

By Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan) with help from Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso)

TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Facebook plans to tailor ads based on users' browsing histories, but the company will also give users more control over what ads they see. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tells telecommunications companies it's time to get serious about cybersecurity, or he'll get serious about regulating them. Democrats aren't happy about the FCC's media ownership rules, and Republicans still aren't happy about the FCC's plan to override state laws on city-funded broadband. The FCC's open meeting today will be a low-key affair (especially compared to the chaos of last month's meeting).



FACEBOOK TO TRACK WEB BROWSING ... Facebook had good news and bad news on the privacy front Thursday. The good news for privacy advocates is that the social-media company will tell users why they're seeing certain ads and give them more control over which ads they see. The bad news is that Facebook will use even more information about its users for advertising, including the sites they visit and the apps they download. So if you're shopping for a new TV, expect to see ads for TVs on Facebook. According to Ad Age, Facebook won't honor Do-Not-Track requests from Web browsers.

Targeted online advertising has become common on many websites, but Facebook's adoption of the practice is significant because of its massive user base.

... BUT LAWMAKERS FROWN UPON THE CHANGES ... Sens. Edward Markey and Jay Rockefeller aren't thrilled with Facebook's decision to collect more data on users. Markey said it is a "major privacy red flag," particularly for children and teenagers. In a statement Thursday, he said Facebook's decision amplifies the need for his "Do Not Track Kids Act" which would extend online privacy protections to teenagers 13 to 15 years old. Rockefeller said he would have "preferred" for Facebook to let its users opt out of data collection altogether.


... SO WILL THE FTC CRACK DOWN? Facebook is bound by a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, so any slipups can result in hefty fines. But it appears Facebook has gotten at least a preliminary OK from the agency.

"We routinely discuss product and policy updates with our regulators—the FTC and the Irish [Data Protection Commissioner]—this time is no different," a Facebook spokesman said.

FCC CHIEF URGES COMPANIES TO DO MORE ON CYBERSECURITY: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled an industry-led plan Thursday to protect U.S. communications networks from cyberthreats. The plan is voluntary, but Wheeler said companies will need to disclose more information so the government can hold them accountable.

Wheeler said he wants to avoid a "prescriptive regulatory approach" but that he will crack down if his plan fails. "We are not Pollyannas. We will implement this approach and measure results," Wheeler said during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. "It is those results that will tell us what, if any, next steps must be taken."


ROGERS OPTIMISTIC FREEDOM ACT WILL PASS: House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers said a meeting Wednesday with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger restored his confidence the USA Freedom Act will pass this year. Speaking Thursday at the AEI event, Rogers said the main disagreement between the two chambers is over how long companies should be required to keep data. The Senate wants to extend the timeline, but Rogers is worried that would put "an extra burden on the companies."

DEMOCRATS CONCERNED WITH MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES: Five Democratic senators say that the FCC's new media ownership rules could leave consumers high and dry. In a letter Thursday to Chairman Wheeler, the senators said the new rules could force some TV stations off the air and urged the FCC to make exceptions for a number of joint sales agreements that were created before the rules were put into place.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS WARN WHEELER NOT TO PREEMPT STATE LAWS: Dozens of House Republicans said they have "deep concern" with the FCC's plan to overturn state laws to encourage municipal broadband projects. The lawmakers said the FCC's plan "sets a dangerous precedent and violates state sovereignty." Thursday's letter to Wheeler was signed by Rep. Marsha Blackburn and other members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, but not committee leaders Fred Upton or Greg Walden.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

Sign up form for the newsletter


SCHEDULING ANNOUNCEMENTS: On Thursday at 9:30 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will bring up its bill to reauthorize the satellite TV law STELA. The panel's Antitrust Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the AT&T-DirecTV merger on June 24 at 2:30 p.m.

TESLA FREES PATENTS TO FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING: The company says more electric cars are needed to tackle climate change. (Ryan, NJ)

NYT: COURT MADE RIGHT DECISION ON CELLPHONE TRACKING: The New York Times' Editorial Board said that because mobile phones hold some of people's most intimate information, a federal court's decision to limit government's access to location data is the right one for privacy.

CABLE FIRES BACK AT NETFLIX: Michael Powell, the head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said Netflix is trying to "strong-arm" the FCC into including interconnection issues in the net-neutrality debate.

100 ORGANIZATIONS DEMAND E-RATE ACTION: A group of schools, organizations, and businesses sent the FCC a letter with a framework for E-Rate reform. A majority of the signees call to raise the cap on the program's funding.

GOOGLE IN TALKS WITH VIRGIN GALACTIC: Google is hoping to catch a ride to space for its Internet satellites with Richard Branson's space-tourism venture. (Mark Kleinman, Sky News)

U.S. INTERNET ISN'T AS BAD AS EVERYONE SAYS IT IS: "In short, no evidence suggests that the United States is an underperforming dullard sitting in the back row of the broadband room," according to a new study by the Progressive Policy Institute.

THE INTERNET IS THE NEW TEENAGE WASTELAND: Texting and tweeting are replacing drink and drugs for U.S. teenagers, according to a new government report. (Mike Stobbe, Sacramento Bee)

TECH COMPANY OFFERS FREE PROTECTION FOR FREE SPEECH: "Project Galileo"—a new program created by CloudFare—will offer free cyberprotection for artists and journalists, who are often vulnerable to hostile governments. (Amy Schatz, Re/Code)


  • The FCC will hear updates on the IP transition and expanding diversity on FM radio stations during the June Open Commission Meeting at 10:30 a.m.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

Sign up form for the newsletter