Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner to investigate Facebook

28 Sep 2011

The social networking giant Facebook, which has 800m users worldwide, is to face an audit by the Data Protection Commissioner, Ireland’s authority on privacy, following complaints about the site.

Facebook incidentally employs close to 300 people in Ireland’s capital city. Dublin has been a massive success for the company. It came to Dublin three years ago with the intention of just hiring 40 people.

Lobby group Europe Versus Facebook has 22 complaints lodged with the Data Protection Commission, ranging from allegations that ‘Pokes’ are being kept after the user removes them, the alleged existence of shadow profiles that gather information and are used to create profiles of non-users, to excessive processing of data.

Other complaints relate to Facebook’s face-recognition technology, the use of the ‘Like’ button as a way to track users over the internet, and an allegation that Facebook is only deleting the link to pictures when users delete them and that the pictures remain public on the internet.

It is understood that the Data Protection Commission will examine all of Facebook’s activities outside the US and Canada. Facebook’s Dublin headquarters are responsible for all users outside the US and Canada.

The Data Protection Commission will publish its findings at the end of the year.

The news comes the same week that Twitter announced plans to locate international operations in Dublin.

Dublin is garnering a reputation as the Internet Capital of Europe due to the presence of major players like Facebook, Google, Zynga, LinkedIn, Microsoft, eBay and PayPal, to name a view.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years