Facebook criticises government monitoring plans

Facebook has criticized government suggestions that intelligence services should monitor web communications of all UK citizens.

Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer and head of global public policy, said to ZDNet on Tuesday that the government proposals, which include monitoring social-networking sites, were excessive.

"We think monitoring all user traffic is overkill," Kelly said. "There is legislation to allow law enforcement access to traffic data [of suspects]. We are not convinced at this time that expansion of those channels is necessary."

Kelly made this statement in response to a speech made by Home Office security minister Vernon Coaker on 18 March. Coaker said the EU Data Retention Directive did not go far enough, as the directive did not apply to social-networking providers.

Coaker said the government was considering retaining traffic data for all instant messaging and communications on social-networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo, as part of its Intercept Modernization Program (IMP).

Kelly said if the government monitors social-networking users, Facebook's business could suffer as people dislike their internet and social-networking traffic data being monitored by the state.

"One of the reasons that Facebook has been so successful is that it provides greater privacy controls than any other [social-networking service] on the internet," Kelly said. "The privacy controls allow people to share information in a comfortable, safe and trusted environment."

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