Tuesday 23 December 2014

Watchdog requests 'urgent' talks over revamp to Facebook

THE Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has sought an "urgent" meeting with Facebook, after it emerged the social network plans to change the way it uses peoples' details and possibly limit users' rights.

Any DPC decision on how Facebook should manage its data would affect hundreds of millions of users in Europe.

The DPC is Facebook's regulator on the continent because the social media giant, co-founded by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has its European HQ in Dublin. If 7,000 users voice "substantive" criticisms of the change, then Facebook is mandated to allow users to vote on whether it should go ahead.

Under the new proposal that right to vote would be abolished, while the company also wants to share the data of its one billion users with Instagram, the photo sharing app it bought earlier this year.

That would allow the company to push more relevant ads to specific users.

In a blog post on the changes, Facebook said data "from our affiliates or our advertising partners" would be used to "tell us information about you" and "improve the quality of ads".

The proposed changes are at the preliminary stage and do not effect users yet but the DPC could force Facebook to seek agreement from its users before making the changes permanent.

In a statement yesterday, the DPC said it had "received notification from Facebook Ireland of proposed changes to its statement of rights and responsibilities for users and importantly to its data use (privacy) policy. We are currently examining the proposed changes and consider that further clarity will be required in relation to the full effect of some of the changes.

"We will be seeking urgent further clarification from Facebook Ireland and if we consider that the proposed changes require a specific consent from EU users we will require Facebook to do this," the commission added.

Dispute

Facebook declined to comment on the specifics of this latest dispute, but a spokesman said it was "in regular contact with the DPC to ensure that we maintain high standards of transparency in respect of our policies and practices.

"We expect to maintain a continuous dialogue with the Irish DPC as our service evolves," he added.

This isn't the first time the Irish data regulator has clashed with Facebook.

In September, the company was forced to turn off facial recognition software on European users after concerns were raised by the DPC.

Irish Independent

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