Facebook's Proposed Privacy Plan Puts Users at Great Risk

03/11/2011 05:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In January, Facebook made a troubling announcement that it plans to

allow third-party developers to request access to the home addresses

and phone numbers of users. Despite Facebook's insistence that it

will protect its users, I believe this policy will place users at

great risk. That's why I wrote a letter with Sens. Charles E. Schumer

(D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Richard Blumenthal

(D-Conn.) to CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to stop plans for this new

third party access to personal data. Armed with nothing more than a

Facebook user's phone number and home address, anyone with an Internet

connection and a few dollars can obtain personal information they

should never have access to, including a user's date of birth, e-mail

address, or estimated income. In fact, by using this information, an

identity thief could get almost all of the data he would need to apply

for a loan or a credit card in the name of an unsuspecting Facebook


And even more alarming, Facebook's new privacy policy would endanger

the privacy and safety of children as young as 13. Under Facebook's

policy, 13 million users under the age of 18 may be allowed to share

their personal information just like adult users. These younger users

are the most vulnerable to predators on Facebook and the rest of the

Internet and it should be impossible for them to inadvertently share

their phone numbers and home addresses with anyone.

The boom of new technologies over the last several years has made it

easier to keep in touch with family and friends, but it has also put

an unprecedented amount of personal information into the hands of

large companies and unknown third parties. It's important that

Facebook protect its users by reversing their plans to permit

developers to request and access this private information. It's even

more important that Facebook protect the children who use its website

by never allowing them to accidentally share their phone numbers and

home addresses with people who may want to hurt them.