Home Knowledge Data Protection Commissioner to Audit Facebook’s Dublin HQ

Data Protection Commissioner to Audit Facebook's Dublin HQ

September 6, 2011

A group in Austria have lodged 17 complaints to the office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner relating to Facebook’s retention of users’ personal data. As a result of the complaint, the Data Protection Commissioner is preparing to conduct an audit of Facebook’s international headquarters in Dublin to assess its data security and data retention policies.

In their complaints, the group “Europe Versus Facebook” note that Facebook have collected and stored data on users’ sexual orientation and political views as well as telephone numbers, emails and information on who users have “liked” or “poked” even after this information has been deleted by the user.

There are concerns that the company will use the information it has collected to build profiles on the browsing habits of both users and their acquaintances that do not hold Facebook accounts, and then commercialise this information without the user’s knowledge or consent.

It is expected that the on site audit will last for one week, after which a report will issue to Facebook notifying the company of any deficiencies uncovered in their privacy and Data Protection policies and what must be done to ensure compliance with Irish Data Protection law. The Data Protection Commissioner’s Office has stated that it will be analysing in particular whether people need to be made more aware of what is happening to their personal information.

The Dublin Facebook Office controls the user agreements of all Facebook users outside the US and Canada, and so any changes resulting from the Data Protection Commissioners report will benefit all of these users, irrespective of where they are located.

The company has stated that it will be co-operating fully with the Data Protection Commissioner’s office during the audit process.

Contributed by Carol Plunkett