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Facebook meeting European privacy guidelines, avoids fines

updated 08:08 pm EDT, Fri September 21, 2012

More work needed; work on privacy overhaul continues

Facebook has passed a review by the governing body that regulates the social network's privacy policy and failures ouside of North America. Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner ordered Facebook to conduct a privacy overhaul for its users outside the United States and Canada after an investigation found its privacy policies were too convoluted and lacked transparency to governing agencies and users.

The Dublin-based regulator agency approved the disconnection of "tag suggest", a piece of facial recognition technology intended to bolster Facebook's databases for the purpose of targeted advertising. The group said most of its other instructions had been adopted, with the remainder being implemented over the next month.

In the ongoing investigation and report, the regulating agency said Facebook had made the most progress in transparency to users, giving them more control over privacy settings, and the ability to more readily access and remove persona data. Areas of concern include reducing the potential for advertising to target users based on sensitive personal data, but it was confident that Facebook would implement protections rapidly.

"We would hope that the progress reported in the review will have dealt with the various complaints we have received in relation to Facebook Ireland," Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes said in a statement regarding the changes.

Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser believed that Facebook's advertising business and its ability to let marketers target specific users would not be affected. "They could probably have a lot less data and it would still dwarf other comparable alternatives," he said. "They'll still be able to target [users] better than others."

by MacNN Staff



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