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December 5, 2012

Austrian student group plans to sue Facebook over privacy policies

The group filed 22 complaints against Facebook Ireland before the Irish Data Protection Commissioner

By CBR Staff Writer

A student group in Austria, calling itself "", is planning to challenge Facebook’s privacy policies in an Irish court where the company has its international headquarters.

The campaign group claimed that the social networking company has failed to comply with European data protection law despite repeated requests and formal complaints by the group members.

Last month, several privacy watchdogs, including the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), questioned the social network’s planned changes to user privacy.

On behalf of the group, Max Schrems filed 22 complaints against Facebook Ireland before the DPC.

Schrems said: "The audit, which was triggered by our complaints, has led to many achievements, Facebook had to disclose more data it holds on each user, it had to turn off facial recognition in the EU and it had to limit retention periods for certain data.

"Even the worldwide privacy policy needed to be changed. The work by the Irish authority has led to many important steps in the right direction, which we very much honor." Schrems said.

Facebook said: "The way Facebook Ireland handles European personal data has been subject to thorough review by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner over the past year."

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"The two detailed reports produced by the DPC demonstrate that Facebook Ireland complies with European data protection principles and Irish law," the social network said.

Recently, the social network amended the planned changes to end user voting on privacy policy issues after receiving criticism from its users and consumer groups.

Last month, two internet privacy advocacy watchdogs, Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, have urged Facebook to withdraw its proposed changes.

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