Facebook Privacy Issues | SocialExcerpts

Facebook Privacy Issues | SocialExcerpts

Facebook Privacy Issues Jan 07

We all have faced privacy concerns while being online on Facebook. The social network has been under severe attack from users and legal honchos alike over the paucity of online privacy. Max Schrems, an Austrian Law student, requested a copy of his Facebook data for writing a paper on privacy policy. And what he got was quite uncanny. Facebook handed him over a CD, containing all his data along with the deleted ones. Shocked and perplexed, Max shared the story with others and consequently 21 other students filed legal complaint against the giant social networking site with Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner was assigned a daunting task in 2011 – they were asked to audit Social Media giant Facebook’s data protection and privacy policies in Europe and Ireland. It was but obvious that Irish Data Protection Commission would get the job, because that country housed the European headquarters of Facebook.

The report was published just a few days before Christmas and amidst constant publicity from global media. Facebook has always been in the news for the wrong reasons, specially because of privacy issues. Thus, the report by the Irish Data Protection Commission assumed supreme weightage. Not only the mainstream media, social media too was flooded with Op-Eds, blogs and articles about the 149 odd page report. Quite contrary to general expectations, the report did not find any gross violations of privacy rules on the social media giant’s part.A detailed investigative analysis to 22 complaints form part of the report. Several suggestions have been proposed, and a review probe will be conducted in the month of  July.

The suggestions made by the commission deal with issues like how long data remains with the social networking site after a user deletes it, how much control an user has over his data, whether data retention and protection policies are clear to FB users, degree of transparency of the social media giant etc. A few weeks before this report was published, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took on Facebook  and asked them to make several privacy improvements. These developments will indeed have a bearing on FB’s future data protection policies, and will hopefully bring a breather for the users.

We can all hopefully conclude that despite privacy concerns, we all “like” Facebook. Don’t we?

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