EU Commissioner dissatisfied with Facebook's data security practicesWed 06 Jul, 2011 // Chris Allan
Social networking site Facebook has drawn major disapproval from EU Commissioner Viviane Reding regarding its data security practices.
Reding turned up the heat on the US-based company after it activated a facial recognition feature in countries outside of the US. The technology was introduced on default, and switched on without first notifying users.
The commissioner expressed a rising concern throughout Europe with regard to how Facebook was using people's personal information.
"People ask: 'What are they doing with my data? What is this thing with photographs? It might be very interesting if I decide that I want this, but it cannot be imposed on me.' There are lots of questions about where we are going in this society," said Reding.
However, technically speaking, the social networking site has not breached any EU laws regarding data security, as the company is based in the United States. However, under new data security regulations, expected to go into effect this autumn, all businesses and services operating within the European Union will be required to notify customers of security breaches – regardless of where the company is based. Reding hopes the new legislation will close loopholes like the one accompanying Facebook's new technology.
Reding commented, "The law is for everyone who does business on the territory of Europe, whatever the origin of the business might be. So you cannot hide anymore by saying, 'I do not have my headquarters in Europe’."
"Only recently, we witnessed a massive security theft in online gaming services affecting millions of users around the world," said Reding. "This incident highlights why companies need to reinforce the security of the information they hold. Frequent incidents of data security breaches risk undermining consumers' trust in the online economy."
Reding did acknowledge the difficulties that are likely to emerge in trying to implement the law for companies based outside of Europe, stating that data infringement complaints against countries outside of Europe "would be dealt with through the nearest responsible national data protection authority."
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