Feeds

Irish DPC to investigate Facebook

More information than they need

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.