FTC should examine Facebook-Datalogix partnership, privacy group says

Datalogix's systems match loyalty card holders to their Facebook accounts to assess ad campaigns

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should analyze Facebook's relationship with a data marketer to ensure it doesn't violate the social networking site's recently approved settlement, the Electronic Privacy Information Center said Monday.

Facebook is working with Datalogix, a company based in Colorado that specializes in collecting data from retailers using customer loyalty cards and linking those purchases to future advertising campaigns, The Financial Times reported. Datalogix links loyalty card holders to their Facebook accounts using shared information, such as email addresses, although the information is anonymized, the report said.

Facebook's user guide say it only provides "data to our advertising partners or customers after we have removed your name or any other personally identifying information from it."

"EPIC believes that the US Federal Trade Commission should open an investigation to determine whether Facebook's proposed arrangement with Datalogix complies with the terms of the recent settlement," according to a statement from Marc Rotenberg, EPIC's president.

Facebook reached an agreement with the FTC in November 2011 after the agency charged the site was repeatedly sharing information that users believed was kept private. Under the settlement terms, Facebook admitted no guilt but agreed to obtain users' consent before sharing their information beyond their established privacy settings.

Facebook must also obtain consumers' approval before it changes how it shares data and have regular audits of its privacy practices over the next 20 years. The settlement was approved by the FTC in August.

On its website, Datalogix says it holds some data from "almost every U.S. household and more than $1 trillion in consumer transactions." It collects sensitive data that is linked to purchases, including names, email addresses and postal addresses. The data is used to lump consumers into anonymized "audiences" for online marketing campaigns that are defined by users' observed interests.

Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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