Bloomberg News

Facebook Quizzed by Nordic Privacy Agencies on Data Storage

July 13, 2011

(Updates with Facebook comment in fifth paragraph.)

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is being quizzed by data protection officials in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland about how it collects and uses information that its members post online.

The four data protection agencies have sent a series of questions to Facebook, seeking answers by the end of August on what it collects and how this information is then used, Bjorn Erik Thon, Norway’s data protection commissioner, said in an interview.

“There are still a lot of uncertainties about what Facebook is actually doing with the users’ information,” Thon said today. “We have some concerns about this and about how Facebook informs users about what happens to their information.”

A group of privacy watchdogs drawn from the European Union’s 27 nations will probe possible privacy violations in a feature on Facebook that uses face-recognition software to suggest people’s names to tag in pictures without their permission the measure for possible rule violations, Gerard Lommel, a Luxembourg member of the so-called Article 29 Data Protection Working Party said last month. Authorities in the U.K. and Ireland said they are also looking into the issue.

“We constantly work on making sure the information we provide to our users is as clear and useful as possible,” Facebook said in an e-mailed statement. “We are looking forward to working with the Norwegian” data protection authority “and their colleagues on this shared objective.”

‘Possible Probe’

The questions that were sent to Facebook last week are based on a report drawn up by the Norwegian data protection authority. A “possible probe” into Facebook will depend on the feedback from the Palo Alto, California-based company, said Thon.

“At this stage, this is an invitation to continue the dialogue in meetings with Facebook,” said Thon, adding that some of the commissioner’s representatives had meetings with Facebook in Ireland and had a visit from Facebook officials in Oslo.

About 2.4 million of Norway’s almost 5 million people are members of Facebook, said Thon.

--Editors: Anthony Aarons, Peter Chapman

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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