Facebook’s response to California’s new privacy law: A big middle finger

When I tried to log in to my Facebook account today, I was greeted with the following demands to release personally identifiable information, in order to gain access to my pre-existing account.

To make sure that this is your account, we need you to send us a photo or scanned copy of an item in group one from this list of IDs.
Some of the items that you can use are:
Driver’s license
Marriage certificate
National ID card
When you submit a copy of your ID, we’ll keep it for more than 30 days, but no more than 1 year, unless you opt out. This helps us improve our automated systems for detecting fake IDs and related abuse. Your ID will not be visible on Facebook. Learn More.

When you click on the button that says you don’t have any of these documents, you see the following:

If you don’t have an ID from group one, you can upload two different IDs from group two instead. Some common items from group two that can be used to confirm your identity include:
Utility bill and a membership ID
Company or school ID and a transit card
Keep in mind that anything you directly upload here is encrypted and stored securely. Once we resolve your issue, we’ll delete the copy of your ID within 30 days.

As irony would have it, we are only hours away from entry into force of California’s new privacy law.

Facebook is either trying to force from users the last bit of privacy information it can before the law takes effect, or shooting its big middle finger at its users and the California regulators.

In either case, users should unite in filing a class action lawsuit against Facebook, and proceed to collect damages, including punitive damages for willful defiance of the law, and seek even stronger legislative controls over what is clearly an out-of-control internet company.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.