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The Electronic Privacy Information Centre (Epic) said legislation was needed to prevent other websites exerting control over users' own personal information and content such as photographs. The United States-based organisation was poised to make a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission about new terms for users of Facebook that appeared to give the social networking site greater control of individuals' information. However, Facebook has since backed down over the changes following an outcry from users who feared their preferences and photos could be stored and used for future marketing. "This row underlines the need for comprehensive privacy laws," said Epic's president Marc Rotenberg told the BBC. "It is great that Facebook has responded by going back to its old terms of service. That is a step in the right direction, but these issues don't go away. It is going to be an ongoing concern for users until we get privacy laws in place."

Facebook members who decide to delete their account can make sure all material they have posted, such as photos and comments on other members' profiles, is taken down. Earlier this month, Facebook changed this so that anything posted on another members' profile would remain, even if the poster cancelled their account – effectively giving it control of such information in perpetuity. But in a blog post shortly afterwards, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote: "Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues people have raised." Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook would draw up a new document in conjunction with its users. The company has set up a special group called "Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" to let users have their say.

"This just reflects the ongoing process of people trying to figure out the internet," John Byrne, a senior analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. told Computerworld.com. "The lesson that should be learned is that these content sites are not your own personal diaries. Consider it more as publishing and less about your personal circle of friends. People need to wake up." Facebook faced similar criticism in 2007 when it introduced a service called Beacon which users feared would provide advertisers with too much of their information. Mr Rotenberg added: "Mark Zuckerberg said users should be able to own and control their information. If everyone starts with that principle we can end up in a very good place. On a lot of these issues where there is confusion on that point, I see a lot of debate." ( www.telegraph.co.uk )


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