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Friday, September 21, 2012
European Regulator Says Facebook Adopts Privacy Recommentations


Facebook has fully implemented most of the recommendations made by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner, the watchdog responsible for regulating its European and Irish operations said on Friday.

Ireland is the headquarters of Facebook's non-U.S. business.

Last july, the data regulator re-audited Facebook to test its progress in fulfilling recommendations made last December regarding policies on tagging photos, retaining and deleting data and on the level of user control.

The Irish regulator said the great majority of the recommendations have been fully implemented , particularly in the following areas:

- The provision of better transparency for the user in how their data is handled,
- The provision of increased user control over settings,
- The implementation of clear retention periods for the deletion of personal data or an enhanced ability for the user to delete items,
- The enhancement of the user's right to have ready access to their personal data and the capacity of Facebook to ensure rigorous assessment of compliance with Irish and EU data protection requirements.

"I am satisfied that the Review has demonstrated a clear and ongoing commitment on the part of FB-I to comply with its data protection responsibilities by way of implementation or progress towards implementation of the recommendations in the Audit Report. I am particularly encouraged in relation to the approach it has decided to adopt on the tag suggest/facial recognition feature by in fact agreeing to go beyond our initial recommendations, in light of developments since then, in order to achieve best practice. This feature has already been turned off for new users in the EU and templates for existing users will be deleted by 15 October, pending agreement with my Office on the most appropriate means of collecting user consent. By doing so it is sending a clear signal of its wish to demonstrate its commitment to best practice in data protection compliance," said Billy Hawkes, The Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

Facebook also switched off the facial-recognition tool that prompts users to "tag" photographs uploaded to its website following a privacy investigation.

"In light of discussions with our regulator in Ireland, we have agreed to suspend the Tag Suggest feature in Europe," Facebook said in a statement.

However, progress still had to be made on a number of other items within the next month, the regulators added.

Deputy Commissioner, Gary Davis who led the both the Audit and the Review stated that "there were a number of items on which progress was not as fully forward as we had hoped and we have set a deadline of 4 weeks for these matters to be brought to a satisfactory conclusion."


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