Facebook won’t ‘like’ its 17th complaint

FACEBOOK bosses in Ireland are to come under pressure after it emerged another complaint (the 17th so far) is on its way to the Data Protection Commissioner.

The complaints by an Austrian-based group relate to claims about how the social network giant gathers, handles and uses the personal data of members. The complaints are being lodged with the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) as Facebook’s Europe headquarters is based here.

The latest complaint centres around the “like” button, which is prevalent on many websites, and allows Facebook to track the online activity of any web users, not just members.

Lobby group Europe v Facebook lodged 16 complaints with the commissioner a week ago. These claim:

- Facebook is not transparent enough and gives unclear, misleading and contradictory information about the handling of personal data.

- Facebook is not deleting content, such as messages, photo tags and friendships, which have been “removed” by a member.

- Facebook is not disclosing its handling of personal data despite requests.

The spokesman said they had prepared a complaint on the like button, but did not file it with the 16 complaints.

“We were lacking one piece of information to file it until now, but we are planning to do so soon,” he said.

A spokesman for the DPC confirmed they had received 16 complaints, had been in contact with Facebook and were examining “different aspects of Facebook Ireland’s compliance with Irish data protection law”.

A spokesman for Facebook Ireland said: “The Data Protection Commission has well-established procedures for resolving such issues through dialogue with the relevant data controller which we expect to follow.”

Digital rights expert and law lecturer TJ McIntyre said there was concern over the like button: “The question is should Facebook be able to track you as you browse other websites even if you are not logged onto Facebook or a Facebook member?”

He said once a user downloads a website containing the like button, the website and the user’s computer IP address is relayed back to Facebook. This could potentially let Facebook build a profile of users’ browsing habits and deliver targeted ads to them.


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