Sunday, October 3, 2010

UK MoD Advises Personnel to Disable Facebook Places

Via The Register UK -

Security chiefs have cautioned army, navy and RAF personnel to disable Facebook Places, over fears it could be used by terrorists to identify and track targets.

The new service could act as a "one stop shop targeting pack", particularly in Northern Ireland, they warn.

The Ministry of Defence is concerned about how it could be used by dissident Republican groups to gather intelligence on operations, as well as on the family and friends of personnel.

Facebook Places encourages members of the dominant social network to publish their location and was launched in the UK two weeks ago. Users do not necessarily have to actively use the service for their exact location to be widely shared.

An MoD advisory document about the potential threat is being circuled to military and civilian personnel in all three forces. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to disable Facebook Places using privacy settings, which it urges, although does not instruct, them to follow. To complete the lockdown, members of the forces must disable four separate data-sharing features.


The MoD calls on the forces to turn off a feature of Facebook Places called "People here now". Turned on by default, it means that all Facebook users checked in at a given location will be able to see who else is there, if they have checked in.


They also want personnel to ensure that if they do check in, intentionally or by accident, their location will not be visible to anyone. By default it is shared with their friends.

Facebook Places allows users to not only publish their own location, but also that of their friends, a feature of the service that most distressed privacy campaigners and has also caused the MoD concern. Although Facebook asks users for their permission the first time a friend tries it, the military are urged to block such requests preemptively.

Finally, the advisory document tells users how to stop third-party applications and websites getting access to location data, which by default they can.


The MoD's advisory is here (pdf).

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