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Privacy Watchdog Seeks ‘Urgent’ Details of Facebook Changes

November 22, 2012

Privacy Watchdog Seeks ‘Urgent’ Details of Facebook Changes

Facebook, which is overseen by Irish data protection regulators in the European Union, said that it recently proposed changes to its data-use policy and its statement of rights and responsibilities. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Irish regulators are seeking “urgent” clarifications from Facebook Inc. (FB:US) after the social media company informed users of changes to its privacy policy overnight.

Facebook, which is overseen by Irish data protection regulators in the European Union, said that it recently proposed changes to its data-use policy and its statement of rights and responsibilities. The changes give users more detailed information about shared data including “reminders about what’s visible to other people on Facebook.”

“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,” Gary Davis, Ireland’s deputy data- protection commissioner, said in an e-mail today.

Davis’s office in September concluded a review into Facebook that pushed the owner of the biggest social-networking site to delete data collected from users within the EU for its facial-recognition feature. Norway’s data-protection regulator said in August it was reviewing how the feature worked and what information Facebook was storing.

“We note that this is the consultation stage of their process and that until that stage is over these changes will not be tabled to users,” said Davis. “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.”

‘Continuous Dialogue’

Facebook said that the company expects “to maintain a continuous dialogue” with the agency as its services evolve.

“As our regulator in Europe, we are in regular contact with the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner to ensure that we maintain high standards of transparency,” Facebook said in an e-mailed statement.

Facebook Ireland provides service to the Palo Alto, California-based company’s users outside the U.S. and Canada, according to the agency, which in 2011 began reviewing Facebook’s compliance with Irish and EU data-protection rules.

Data protection is currently policed by separate regulators across the 27-nation EU. The EU’s executive body wants to simplify the system so companies deal with only one data- protection regulator in the zone.

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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