Facebook ordered to improve its privacy
Published 22/12/2011 | 05:00
FACEBOOK users will enjoy tighter privacy controls after the social networking giant was ordered by the Data Protection Commissioner to change how it handles personal data.
The company was issued with a raft of recommendations including deleting personal information sooner and allowing users better control on the use of data.
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner yesterday published the outcome of its audit of Facebook Ireland, which was carried out over the last three months.
The Dublin headquarters is the firm's international operation, and provides a range of online technical, sales and operations support to Facebook users and customers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Deputy Data Protection Commissioner Gary Davis, who led the audit, said it was the most comprehensive and detailed ever undertaken by his office.
The social networking site, which has more than 800 million users, has agreed to the changes.
"We set ourselves a very ambitious target for completion and publication as both this office and Facebook felt it was important that the outcome be published and opened to public comment and scrutiny," Mr Davis said.
"It is important to recognise that Facebook Ireland, as recently as September 2010, was designated responsibility for all users outside of the US and Canada."
• Deleting information held on users and non-users via so-called social plug-ins and the deleting of data held from user interactions with the site much sooner.
• Increased transparency and controls for the use of personal data for advertising purposes.
• An enhanced ability for users to control tagging and posting on other users' profiles.
Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes said Facebook had agreed to make "best practice" improvements over the next six months, with a review to take place in July.
The audit focused on complaints addressed by the Europe-versus-Facebook group, the Norwegian Consumer Council and a number of individuals.
Richard Allan, director of public policy with Facebook EMEA, said: "The people who use Facebook take privacy and data protection seriously and so do we.
"We work closely with privacy commissioners and regulators around the world to demonstrate our compliance with legal requirements and to improve our policies and practices."
Facebook confirmed it was committed to:
• Enhancing the ability of European users to control tagging and posting on other user profiles and their addition to groups by friends.
• Changing a number of policies relating 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 into Facebook.
• Working with the Data Protection Commissioner to improve the information that people using Facebook are given.