Facebook agrees to Euro privacy changes

FACEBOOK Inc has agreed to make several changes to its services to improve transparency and better protect the personal data of its millions of users outside of the US, following an audit of its international headquarters.

The social media company, which is based in California, agreed to changes including asking European users if they wanted to partake in its facial recognition, reworking its policies of retaining and deleting private data, and reducing the amount of information collected about people who are not logged into Facebook, the company said in response to the report of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

Facebook’s international headquarters are based in Dublin, Ireland, a member of the European Union. This means the company is required to comply with European data privacy laws, which are more stringent than those that apply in the United States, particularly regarding how long data can be retained.

“Facebook has committed to either implement, or to consider, other ‘best practice’ improvements recommended by the data protection commissioner,” the company said following the announcement of the report today.

It is standard for Ireland’s data protection commissioner to audit any high-tech companies in the country to ensure that their practices are in keeping with the European law, and make recommendations to help them to meet those standards, should they fall short.

“It is not the object of the audit, to decide whether there is a breach of law,” Billy Hawkes, the data protection commissioner, told reporters. “It is to help an organisation achieve full compliance with law, put their compliance into best practice.

Facebook has repeatedly come under fire in Europe for a raft of complaints ranging from accusations that it sells personal data to advertisers – a charge that the Irish authority said its findings did not uphold – its Friend Finder application and “archiving” of data that users have

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