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Markey, Barton Ask FTC to Investigate Facebook

Reps. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), co-chairs of the House Privacy Caucus, have asked the FTC to investigate social networking giant Facebook over published reports it has been gathering info about the web sites users visited even after they logged out of Facebook. Facebook has said it stopped the practice, according to the legislators, but they are still concerned.

They told FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a letter that the investigation would fall under its "unfair and deceptive practices" powers. "We believe that tracking users without their knowledge or consent raises serious privacy concerns. When users log out of Facebook, they are under the impression that Facebook is no longer monitoring their activities," they wrote. "We believe this impression should be the reality."

Citing the Journal article and Facebook's response that fixing the problem would take awhile they pressed Facebook to make it a priority and do whatever it takes to fix it ASAP. They also want to know whether the FTC is investigating the issue already or has any plans to. An FTC spokesperson confirmed it had received the letter, but declined comment on it.
Barton and Markey have had a running correspondence with Facebook over a number of issues, including in October 2010 after a Wall Street Journal report about personal info leaked to third-party applications even after privacy settings were adjusted, in Feb. 2011 about the company's plans to makes users' addresses and mobile phone numbers available to third parties, and again in May 2011 after reports of security "vulnerability" that allowed "advertisers, analytics firms and other third parties the capability to access Facebook users' accounts and personal information."