Saturday 21 October 2017

Pressure on Facebook for using photos of under-18s

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

It wasn't all Dick Tracy accessories at IFA. As journalists beeped and shoved each other, there was news that Facebook might be in the dock again.

This time it's facing pressure after saying that the images of users under 18 can be commercially used by the network.

In an email to users updating its terms and conditions, the social networking giant said that it had added a provision stating that children using the site "represent" that a parent or guardian has consented to the company using user photos or facial images commercially for Facebook.

As is now a regular occurrence, the move has sparked international criticism.

"Facebook's new policy on its 13- to 17-year-old users is especially alarming," said Hudson Kingston, a lawyer for the US privacy group the Centre for Digital Democracy.

"Facebook's new policy tries to bind both minors and their parents to consent to ongoing invasions of privacy, based only on the non-action of teenage users."

Facebook updated its terms and conditions after it was told to pay €15m in a US class-action lawsuit for promotional exploitation of users' imagery.

Yesterday a Facebook spokesman said the conditions "make our practices more clear".

The terms say: "If you are under the age of 18, or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf."

Facebook has more than two million users in Ireland, many of them are under 18. Its minimum user age is 13.

The Irish data privacy commissioner, which carried out a European audit on Facebook in 2011, didn't immediately respond to questions on the issue.

Meanwhile, Facebook is facing trouble in Germany over measures to identify users through facial imagery.

"It is astonishing to find the facial recognition again in the new proposed privacy policy," said the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Johannes Caspar.

"We therefore have directly tried to contact officials from Facebook to find out if there is really a change in their data protection policy or if it is just a mistake of translation."

Plus ca change.

Irish Independent

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