The new rules, announced last week and due to come into force after a consultation closes on Wednesday, are designed to allow Facebook to blend details of members activities with personal data from Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app it acquired earlier this year. The resulting single profiles of people across multiple services could result in more accurate targeted advertising.
Today, the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, which is most responsible for regulating Facebook in Europe because its operations are based in Dublin, said it had asked for the proposed policy to be changed. It indicated that officials believe a greater level of consent to use personal data in new ways was required, and that they expected Facebook to comply.
“We have sought and received clarifications on a number of aspects and have outlined our position in relation to what consent will be required for aspects of the policy,” a spokesman said.
“Facebook Ireland has understood this position and we expect the proposed data use policy to be modified to take account of these issues.”
The Irish regulator refused to elaborate on what specific changes it had requested.
The official intervention followed complaints about the new policy from American privacy campaigners, who have repeatedly clashed with Facebook over its frequent policy changes.
In a joint open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy complained about Facebook shutting down a system that allows members to vote on privacy changes and about new restrictions on their ability to block unwanted messages, as well as blending Instagram data. The groups called on Mr Zuckerberg to abandon the plan, citing Facebook’s privacy settlement with the Federal trade Commmission.
"When Facebook first announced its acquisition of Instagram, it also announced its commitment 'to building and growing Instagram independently,' rather than integrating the two sites," the open letter said.
"Facebook’s proposed changes implicate the user privacy and the terms of a recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement prohibits Facebook from misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy or security of covered information."
Facebook settled with the FTC in August and avoided a potentially costly legal battle, but agreed to submit itself to 20 years of inspections and ensure it gets proper consent to make privacy changes.
Facebook has also submitted itself to inspections in Ireland and today said it remained “in regular contact with the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner to ensure that we maintain high standards of transparency in respect of our policies and practices”.
Christopher Williams, Telegraph.co.uk