Facebook Deletes Facial Recognition Data For EU Users, Irish And German Commissioners Confirm
By Yannick LeJacq | February 8, 2013 8:22 AM EST
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has deleted all of the facial recognition data its social network held for European users, ending a two year saga of legal battles between the social media company and privacy authorities in several EU countries.
According to a report from CFO World, the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) and the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection And Freedom of Information both confirmed this week that Facebook has deleted the user data, citing statements from both organizations.
“We recently reviewed the source code and execution process used in the deletion process and can confirm that we were satisfied with the processes used by Facebook to delete the templates in line with its commitment,” Ciara O’Sullivan, a DPC spokesperson, said in a statement this week.
Ulrich Kühn, the head of Hamburg DPC’s technical department, corroborated the news, reportedly saying: “For the time being, it is settled.”
Facebook has remained relatively quiet on the subject, telling CFO World that it has no plans to reintroduce tag suggestions to its EU users “for the moment.”
Beyond independently reviewing Facebook’s source code to see if the facial recognition templates and relevant user data was indeed gone, it’s unclear how exactly the Irish and German organizations confirmed that the offending data was removed completely. Facebook’s participation in the current investigation also remains unclear.
A Facebook representative was not immediately available for comment on this story.
Facebook’s facial recognition feature first came under scrutiny by European privacy advocates in 2011 after complaints began to bubble up from users and privacy watchdogs in Austria and Germany. While Ireland’s DPC was satisfied by the company offering to remove the “Tag Suggest” feature rather than the facial recognition technology entirely, German authorities reopened the investigation in August of last year. By September, Facebook had assented to the regulatory pressure, saying that it had already disabled the feature for new users in the region and would delete all of its data related to the facial recognition software gathered on its European users along with the templates originally used to identify users by Oct. 15.
Unlike some of other privacy violation charges leveled against the social media company, such as Germany’s Independent Center for Privacy Protection (ULD) complaint against its real name policy, Facebook faced a stronger legal obligation to meet the DPC’s requests since its international headquarters are based in Ireland, making it subject to the EU’s international data protection regulations.
Just last week, Facebook reintroduced facial recognition to US users, saying it had temporarily shelved the feature for “technical improvements.”
The company said in a blog post that the new facial recognition software was designed to help users “easily identify a friend in a photo and share that content with them.”
Facebook shares fell just under 1.4 percent during Thursday trading, closing at $28.65.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Celebrities Who Got Pregnant Using IVF: Busting the Myths About IVF
- Global Aviation Accidents: UN to Form Safety Task Force, Gov'ts Should Share Intelligence Info to Avert Future Incidents on Flying Over Warzones (PHOTOS)
- PageSix: Beyonce & Jay Z Union is Not About Love, All About Business & the Brand
Join the Conversation
- GTA V Online: Money-Glitch Ban Goes After Cheaters as a New Zombie DLC Leak is Spotted
- Destiny News: Burning Questions Answered, New Info for Game Spotted and New Artwork Showcased
- Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Speculations for Mega Evolutions; X and Y Double Battles Detailed
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet 17.1.2.A.0.314 Firmware Update to Improve Touch Screen and Charging Speed
- Nokia Lumia 630 vs. Sony Xperia M Specs and Price Comparison in Australia
- Apple iPhone 6 Release Date Update: 6 Most Wanted Feature Upgrades for Next iPhone
- Moto X Android 4.4.4 KitKat Update Guide: Schedule and How to Install
- Top 4 Reasons Why iPhone 6 Will Hit Big Soon After its Sept 2014 Release Date
- Top Surprising Features Of iOS 8
- Twin Malaysia Airlines MH370, MH17 Aviation Disasters Create Phobia Among Travellers
- HTC One M8 Windows Phone to Launch for Verizon; Release Date, Price, Five Fresh Features to Anticipate for New Smartphone
- OnePlus One vs. Moto X+1 – Early Specifications, Release Date and Price Faceoff