Facebook’s privacy policy breaches European law, report finds
Mon 23 Feb 2015, 15:40

A report commissioned by the Belgian privacy commission has found that Facebook is acting in violation of European law, despite updating its privacy policy.

Conducted by the Centre of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT at the University of Leuven in Belgium, the report claimed that Facebook’s privacy policy update in January had only expanded older policy and practices, and found that it still violates European consumer protection law.

According to the report, Facebook’s policies around profiling for third-party advertising do not “meet the requirements for legally valid consent”, while the social network “fails to offer adequate control mechanisms” with regard to the use of user-generated content for commercial purposes.

Italian privacy watchdog says to conduct inspections at Google U.S. offices
Fri 20 Feb 2015, 22:20

Italy's data privacy watchdog said Google Inc had agreed to it conducting inspections at its Californian headquarters, the first time a European Union regulator will make checks on the company inside U.S. territory.

Friday's announcement represents the latest privacy challenge for the company in the EU and underscores the willingness of the 28-member bloc to ensure its citizens' data are treated according to EU law, even when held in foreign jurisdictions.

Google has been under investigation by several EU data protection authorities (DPAs) since it consolidated some 70 existing privacy policies into one in March 2012, combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and social network Google+.

White House privacy proposal aims to give consumers control over data
Sat 28 Feb 2015, 01:20

U.S. businesses that collect personal data would be required to describe their privacy and security practices and give consumers control over their personal information under a proposed privacy bill of rights released Friday by President Barack Obama’s administration.

The proposal would also require companies and nonprofit groups to collect and retain only the personal data they need to operate.

However, the proposal allows industry groups to submit their own codes of conduct to the Federal Trade Commission and shields companies that follow those codes from FTC enforcement actions.

EU data protection authorities investigate Facebook's new privacy policy
Wed 4 Feb 2015, 16:20

The European Union’s data protection authorities are getting serious about issues with Facebook’s new privacy policy. They have formed a task force which will deal with part of the policy that could very well violate EU privacy laws.

The task force was formed on Tuesday during a meeting of European data protection authorities and will be led by Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and perhaps Italy, said the spokeswoman for Bart Tommelein, Belgium’s state secretary for privacy. The data protection authorities (DPAs) for instance take issue with Facebook’s practice of following its users off site, collecting information when they use third-party websites and apps that use a Facebook “like” button, a Facebook log-in or Facebook’s measurement and advertising services. What’s more, the authorities don’t like Facebook claiming the right to use information and photos from user profiles for commercial purposes and take issue with Facebook sharing personal user data with third parties, she said.

Facebook Modifies User Privacy Policy
Fri 2 Jan 2015, 22:00

Facebook has modified its privacy and data use policies, effective January 1, 2015. Facebook will now allow advertisers to include a “buy” button directly on targeted advertisements on a user’s page. Facebook will also allow advertisers to use the location data gathered from tools like “Nearby Friends” and location "check-ins” to push geolocation-based targeted advertisements. For instance, a Facebook user who checks in near a restaurant that partners with Facebook may now be shown menu items from that restaurant. Last month, the Dutch data protection commission announced that it planned to open an investigation into Facebook’s policy modifications. In July 2014, EPIC and a coalition of consumer privacy groups urged the FTC to halt Facebook’s plan to collect web-browsing information from its users. Facebook is already under a 20 year consent decree from the FTC that requires Facebook to protect user privacy. The consent decree resulted from complaints brought by EPIC and a coalition of consumer privacy organizations in 2009 and 2010. For more information, see EPIC: Facebook Privacy; and EPIC: FTC.

With new policy changes, Facebook tracks users across the web
Wed 4 Feb 2015, 23:20

Over the objections of consumer privacy organizations, Facebook has implemented policy changes that allow the company to track users across the web without consent. The Dutch data protection commissioner launched an investigation after the original announcement. This week the a German privacy agency announced a similar investigation. Last year, EPIC and a coalition of consumer privacy groups urged the FTC to halt Facebook's plan to collect web-browsing information from its users. Facebook is already under a 20 year consent decree for changing users' privacy settings. The consent decree resulted from complaints brought by EPIC and others in 2009 and 2010.