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Schumer Urges FTC: Set Social Networking Guidelines

N.Y. United States Senator, Charles Schumer
Chuck Schumer
N.Y. United States Senator, Charles Schumer

New York Senator Charles Schumer wants the Federal Trade Commission needs to deal more aggressively with the question of social-network privacy.

Schumer issued a press release announcing that he wants regulators to look into of social-networking privacy disclosures and "ensure they are not misleading or fail to fully disclose the extent to which they share information...(and) provide guidelines for use of private information and prohibit access without user permission."

Schumer's decision came less than a week after Facebook announced its so-called "Open Graph," which would, among other things, facilitate more tightly connected links between social-networking sites. Facebook also introduced a personalization feature to let users of its service share personal profile information with companies.

Noting that "hundreds of millions of people use social-networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter every day," Schumer said that safeguards should exist that afford users control over their personal information and block against unwanted solicitations. He also said they should incorporate "easy-to-understand disclosures" about how information they submit gets shared on the services.

Facebook was apparently caught off guard. "We were surprised by Senator Schumer's comments and look forward to sitting down with him and his staff to clarify," a spokesman said in an e-mail statement. Facebook maintained that none of the announced changes would reduce user control over their information. In fact, some of the changes, it said, would extend "even greater controls."

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.