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December 21, 2011

Facebook jumps privacy hurdle in Ireland

Facebook has scored a victory in its never-ending battle over privacy

By Tineka Smith

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner has announced the outcome of the results of its investigation into Facebook’s data protection policies, and confirmed that he does not believe that Facebook is building ‘Shadow Profiles’ of data about people who are not logged into Facebook.

"We are pleased that following three months of rigorous examination, the DPC report demonstrates how Facebook adheres to European data protection principles and complies with Irish law," announced Facebook in a blog today.

The investigation goes back to October of this year when Ireland’s Office of the Data Protection Commissioner said that it was to audit Facebook’s International HQ in Dublin because of complaints about the social networking site keeping data that was supposedly deleted. The Europe vs Facebook campaign had also claimed that Facebook was creating profiles of people without a Facebook account.

Personal user data for target advertising were found to be legitimate by the DPC along with third party applications. The DPC did suggest, however, that Facebook’s Tag feature could have been executed in a more transparent way. It has been recommended that Facebook take a ‘best practice’ approach and be more transparent to users by displaying additional notifications to users in Europe and offering more information about the feature.

Facebook has agreed to delete data that is not needed and tighten up its privacy practices. The social networking site has also agreed to a follow up review in 2012 and to incorporate the following:

  • Offer additional notifications to European users about Facebook’s photo Tag Suggest feature so that they can decide whether or not to use this feature to help people tag them in photos
  • Change a number of our policies related to retention and deletion of data including how data is logged when people access websites with social plugins to minimise the amount of information collected about people who are not logged in to Facebook
  • Work with the DPC to improve the information that people using Facebook are given about how to control their information both on Facebook and when using applications


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