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Facebook Considering Blocking Contact Requests for Underage Kids

Facebook is
considering whether to allow applications to request contact
information from kids under 18. Currently its policy is not to allow
under 13 to provide that info, but told a pair of powerful congressmen
it was "actively considering" whether to extend that policy to older

That is
according to Facebook VP, global Public Policy Marne Levine, in a letter
to Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.), co-chairs of the
House Privacy Caucus, about Facebook's plans
to re-launch a site feature enabling users to share contact info,
possibly including addresses and mobile phone numbers. The legislators
had sent their own letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg expressing
their concerns.

considers risks to minor in all its new product features," Levine said.
"We are actively considering whether to enable applications to request
contact information from minors at all."

Facebook suspended the new app after concerns were raised about the practice, but explained to the legislators in a Feb. 25 letter
that there is a permission screen for all third-party apps that gives
the user clear control of whether and how much info is provided.

"[W]e did
not simply grant applications access to users' contact information,"
Levine explained in the letter. "We allowed applications to ask users
for that information through a permissions screen
that provided clear and conspicuous notice to the user...Nor did we
require or encourage users to grant such access."

encouraged that Facebook is deciding whether to allow applications on
the site to request contact information from minors, said Markey Monday.
"I don't believe that applications on Facebook should
get this information from teens, and I encourage Facebook to wall off
access to teen's contact information if they enable this new feature."
Markey is planning to introduce legislation that would prevent the tracking or use of teen site surfing info.

the Federal Trade Commission in an upcoming report is also expected to
recommend increasing privacy protections for teens' online information.