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Lawmakers urge FTC to investigate Facebook for cookies

September 28, 2011 |  2:58 pm

Lawmakers have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's practice of collecting data from users even after they log out from the social networking service.

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.) raised concerns in a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz on Wednesday. The two lawmakers, who have aggressively pursued Facebook on privacy issues, say they are concerned that Facebook is tracking users without their permission.

"When users log out of Facebook, they are under the expectation that Facebook is no longer monitoring their activities. We believe this impression should be the reality," the lawmakers wrote.

Cookies Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic raised concerns about Facebook using tracking cookies in a blog post on Sunday. Facebook says it took swift steps to address Cubrilovic's concerns. It also said it never monitored users' browsing habits. Cubrilovic confirmed in a later blog post that Facebook had resolved the logout issue.

"We value the security community and their willingness to provide feedback on issues that they identify," a Facebook spokesman said.

Facebook engineer W. Gregg Stefancik wrote in a comment on the Los Angeles Times tech blog Tuesday: 

"I want to make it clear that there was no security or privacy breach -- Facebook did not store or use any information it should not have. Like every site on the Internet that personalizes content and tries to provide a secure experience for users, we place cookies on the computer of the user. Three of these cookies on some users' computers included unique identifiers when the user had logged out of Facebook. However, we did not store these identifiers for logged out users. Therefore, we could not have used this information for tracking or any other purpose. In addition, we fixed the cookies so that they won't include unique information in the future when people log out."


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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Ranger cookies. Photo credit: Michelle Jenkins / The Daily Waffle