Privacy probe begins at Irish Facebook office – report


27 Oct 2011

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Facebook denies collecting and storing data about non-users

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Ireland’s Data Protection Office has begun investigating social networking giant Facebook’s regional office in Dublin following accusations that the company is creating “shadow profiles” of non-users, FoxNews.com is reporting.

A complaint by the Data Protection Commissioner filed in August claims users are encouraged to share others’ personal data, which includes religious and political beliefs, and that Facebook is storing that information in a database.

The complaint also alleges Facebook is using various methods to collect non-user data, such as when users "synchronize" their mobile phones and search for other people’s names on Facebook, FoxNews.com reported.

FoxNews.com reports a spokeswoman for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner as saying an on-site investigation of Facebook’s Dublin office began earlier this week. The search can include a building inspection, staff being questioned, and the removal of any files from local computers, as per the Commissioner’s audit guidelines.

The spokeswoman did not specify what the commissioner is seeking or hoping to find, but said the search will take a few days and the commissioner intends to finish the investigation by year end.

Facebook has denied the claims and reiterated it strives to comply with all regional privacy laws. 

“Facebook is co-operating fully with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner as part of its routine audit, which began this week," a spokesman told FoxNews.com. "We believe that we are fully compliant with EU data protection laws and look forward to welcoming the DPA to our EU headquarters in Dublin to demonstrate this."

The spokesman added that the Irish DPA audits several companies each year.

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