Feeds

Irish DPC to investigate Facebook

More information than they need

The Power of One Infographic

Even if you’re not a Facebook user, chances are that your computer is carrying cookies from The Social Network™. They’re scattered all over the Web like digital malarial mosquitoes waiting for the next host.

They’re also, according to Austrian law student Max Schrens, part of an infrastructure that allows Facebook to build “shadow profiles” of people who have never signed on to Facebook and therefore have never consented to its data slurp.

According to Schrens’ complaint to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, these shadow profiles are mainly gathered by encouraging users to share information about their friends, even if those people aren’t users. For example, he writes, when a user synchs a mobile phone to their Facebook account, they’re handing information on non-users to Facebook; similarly, importing e-mail address books, importing profiles from services like Twitter, and even sending Facebook invites to friends – all of these help round out the profiles Facebook can build of non-users.

According to the Irish Times, the group Europe-v-Facebook has used his research to force a privacy investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner.

His formal complaint claims that the information collected by Facebook Ireland is excessive, and is gathered “without notice or consent by the data subject. This information might also constitute sensitive data such as political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation and so on.”

Schrens also says the interested generated by the Europe-v-Facebook group has been so intense that it’s hampering Facebook’s ability to respond to his request for information held about him: “due to the recent high volume of personal data access requests, there are significant delays and that Facebook would be unlikely to respond within the 40-day period set down by the Irish data-protection office. So I can’t verify Europe-v-Facebook’s claim that the data contained therein differs from what I downloaded from Facebook,” he notes.

Other complaints raised by Europe-v-Facebook include the alleged use of the “Like” button to track people “all over the Internet”; facial recognition technology; the retention of messages after users have deleted them; and the ability for users to be added to groups without their consent.

Australia’s privacy watch-puppy watchdog, the Privacy Commissioner, recently passed over the cookies issue, and is unlikely to pursue the “shadow profiles” debate without a specific complaint.

El Reg has requested comment from Facebook. ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Sit back down, Julian Assange™, you're not going anywhere just yet
Swedish court refuses to withdraw arrest warrant
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
British cops cuff 660 suspected paedophiles
Arrests people allegedly accessing child abuse images online
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.