Consumer Information Sharing: Where the Sun Still Don’t Shine
Author(s): Chris Jay Hoofnagle
Abstract: In late 2007, the popular social networking site Facebook.com adopted “Beacon,” an application that informs Facebook users’ friends about purchases made and activities on other websites. For example, if a Facebook user bought a movie ticket on Fandango.com, that user’s friends would be informed of that fact through a news “feed” on Facebook. Some users objected vigorously to the Beacon application, because their activities were reported on an opt-out basis, meaning that the user had to take affirmative action to prevent others from learning about their activities. An activism website, Moveon.org, organized a protest, calling users to action by asking, “When you buy a book or movie online – do you want that information automatically shared with the world on Facebook?” Facebook responded to these critiques by changing its policy to obtain express approval before activities on other sites would be shared with friends.
Keywords: Privacy, opt-in, opt-out, direct marketing, information sharing, SB 27, shine the light