Facebook has suspended its plans to roll-out a new dating feature across the EU to coincide with St Valentine’s Day after the data protection watchdog raided its offices in Dublin.
Facebook Ireland first informed the Data Protection Commission (DPC) on February 3 of its plans to roll-out the feature within the fortnight. Facebook Dating, which is already available in the US, allows Facebook users over the age of 18 to create a dating profile separate from their main page.
According to the social network giant: “It takes the work out of creating a dating profile and gives you a more authentic look at who someone is. People are suggested based on your preferences, interests and other things you do on Facebook.”
However, the feature sparked concern with the offices of the Data Protection Commissioner, the Irish supervisory authority for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
“We were very concerned that this was the first that we’d heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature, considering that it was their intention to roll it out [tomorrow, February 13]," a statement from the DPC said.
“Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information or documentation was provided to us on February 3 in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland.”
Under GDPR, it is mandatory for companies to carry out a DPIA for any new processing projects in order to mitigate against data protection risks. After failing to provide the requested documentation, authorised DPC officers conducted an inspection at Facebook Ireland Limited’s Dublin offices on Monday February 10. The company has since postponed the roll-out of the feature.
Facebook said it worked carefully to create strong privacy safeguards. A data processing impact statement has been shared with the DPC, a spokeswoman for the company said.