Ireland to scrutinise Facebook over privacy complaints: report


by CBR Staff Writer| 30 September 2011

'Frictionless sharing' and 'log-out cookies' to be examined by Irish data protection commissioner's office

Social networking site Facebook could be scrutinised by regulators in Ireland over its handling of personal information.

The Financial Times reported the Irish data protection commissioner will conduct a privacy audit of Facebook's activities outside the US and Canada. Facebook's European headquarters are in Dublin.

The move comes after European and US privacy campaigning groups filed complaints to the Irish commissioner and the US Federal Trade Commission, said the report.

The complaints are over the new "frictionless sharing" features adopted by Facebook in its renewed avatar. There are concerns also over the social networking site's use of cookies to track users browsing preferences even after they have logged out of the site.

The report said Irish deputy data protection commissioner Gary Davis said his office would conduct a detailed audit of Facebook's activities: "This audit will examine the subject matter of the complaint but also will be more extensive and will seek to examine Facebook's compliance more generally with Irish data protection law."

Earlier this week, Facebook faced major embarrassment over the use of its stealth cookies that remained active after a user had logged out. Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic had first brought the company's attention to the glitch last year, but Facebook ignored his mails. This week, the social networking company not only acknowledged the "error" but also had to thank Cubrilovic.

Cubrilovic's blog over stealth Facebook cookies raised privacy concerns about the service. The Australian privacy commissioner is reportedly investigating the issue, said the BBC.

Earlier this year, the Daily Mail revealed that George Hotz, the young American hacker who is infamous for his role in Sony PlayStation Network(PSN) hacks in April this year, is working for Facebook.

IT security company Symantec has said that Facebook could have inadvertently leaked users' personal information to third parties and advertisers over the past few years.

A survey by Consumer Reports found that last year, the social networking site had 7.5 million underage users in the US alone, a violation of the site's policies which require users to be at least 13 years old. Facebook also has one million children who have been bullied on the site, Consumer Reports said.

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