'Bend over, Facebook' says EU, snapping on its rubber gloves

Sneak preview of controversial EU data protection board?

Europe’s data protection watchdogs have vowed to get tough with Facebook over its new privacy policy.

The so-called Article 29 working group, which is made up of national data protection chiefs from all EU countries, has set up a special task force to probe the social network’s new Ts&Cs on data privacy.

The countries taking the lead on the investigation are Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, primarily because they have already started (or in Germany’s case, started thinking about) cases against the free content ad network.

It is unusual for such a group to be set up to investigate a single company, although the EU took a similar approach with Google’s privacy policy.

As the new data protection regulation draws inexorably closer, this task force approach could be a taste of things to come – the latest proposals on the regulation include setting up a European Data Protection Board as well a couple of different variations on a so-called “one stop shop”. Watch this space for an idea how that might work in practice.

The data protection tsars are worried that joining together many disparate services offered by Facebook could violate EU privacy laws. Of particular concern is Facebook’s collection of information from third party sites that include the “Like” button.

Commercial collection of data from WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus will be examined along with the Facebook main site. ®

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