Facebook facing EU privacy clampdown

Social network under scrutiny as regulators plan protection law overhaul

Stewart Mitchell
28 Nov 2011

European regulators are set to crack down on how social networks and other online services sell user data.

According to Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission, politicians are concerned about the level of data sold by Facebook and other online services in a bid to target advertising.

The concerns are behind plans for a new Directive that will amend current European data protection laws to take into account technological advances and the way data is treated.

"I call on service providers – especially social media sites – to be more transparent about how they operate,” Reding told The Telegraph. “Users must know what data is collected and further processed [and] for what purposes."

Users must know what data is collected and further processed and for what purposes

"Consumers in Europe should see their data strongly protected, regardless of the EU country they live in and regardless of the country in which companies which process their personal data are established," she added.

The changes to data protection were already being planned, but Facebook could face more intense scrutiny in the coming days, with the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, the EU's data watchdog, due to meet next week to discuss an Irish audit of Facebook’s privacy practices.

According to The Telegraph, Facebook stores data relating to searches, sexual preferences and other personal information that “can be used” for commercial purposes, although Facebook maintains it does not share people's names with advertisers.

Facebook has yet to come back to us with comment.

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