Business Irish

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Facebook risks €100,000 fine over privacy issues

Peter Flanagan

Published 22/09/2012 | 05:00

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FACEBOOK has a month to comply with a number of measures relating to privacy, or it could be fined tens of thousands of euro by Irish authorities.

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Last year, an audit by the Data Protection Commission (DPC) of the social network's handling of user data found a number of shortcomings. The commission recommended that the company should make several changes "in line with best practice".

Now a second audit of the company has found that Facebook has complied with most of the recommendations, but a small number are still to be implemented.

If the issues that still remain are not resolved within a month, the company could face a maximum fine of €100,000.

The changes, which range from how long the company can retain a person's data after they have deleted their account to how the website uses facial recognition software, will affect around 600 million users outside North America.

Audit

The audit states that, "in a small number of cases -- notably new user education, deletion of social plug-in impression data for EU users, fully verified account deletion beyond all doubt and minimising the potential for ad targeting based on words and terms that could be considered sensitive to personal data -- full implementation has not yet been achieved but is planned to be achieved by a specified deadline.

"It is also clear that ongoing engagement with the company will be necessary as it continues to bring forward new innovations.

"The company co-operated fully with the commission while 'defending vigorously' its positions on certain issues," the report adds.

The results of the DPC's probe came as US lawmakers accused a number of American technology firms of using Ireland as a tax haven to avoid paying taxes at home.

The powerful Senate Subcommittee For Investigations is probing Microsoft and Hewlett Packard's tax practices but is aiming at the wider tech industry.

While the issue of "bringing taxes home" has been a theme of the US presidential election campaign, a hardening of attitudes to wealth and tax avoidance is seen as setting the scene for tougher tax laws being brought in to the United States.

Such changes could have a devastating effect on Ireland, where a huge number of tech giants are said to use this country to avoid tax in the US.

Irish Independent

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