Facebook Ireland accused of creating ‘shadow profiles’ on users, nonusers

Logo from Facebook page for data privacy advocates in Europe

(Credit:
euro v. facebook.org)

Facebook Ireland is under fire for allegedly creating “shadow profiles” on both users and nonusers alike.

The startling charges against the social-networking giant come from the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (IDC), which, Fox News reports today, is launching a “comprehensive” investigation against Facebook Ireland for extracting data from current users-without their consent or knowledge-and building “extensive profiles” on people who haven’t even signed on for the service.

Names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, work information, and perhaps even more sensitive information such as sexual orientation, political affiliations, and religious beliefs are being collected and could possibly be misused, Irish authorities claim.

Interestingly, Facebook users living outside of the United States or Canada are contracted with Facebook Ireland. Facebook users living inside the United States and Canada are contracted with Facebook Inc., headquartered in California. Running afoul of privacy laws is much more likely for companies operating outside of the United States, especially in Europe, where privacy laws are much more stringent.

On August 18, the IDC received a formal complaint against Facebook Ireland made by Max Schrems, a 24-year-old Austrian law student. In June, after attending a talk by a Facebook executive at Santa Clara University in California, while on a study abroad program, Schrems apparently asked Facebook for his data. To his surprise, the company sent him a CD with 1,200 pages-three years worth-of highly personal “deleted” material ranging from friend requests to his history of “Pokes” to lists of people he had “defriended” to entire chat messages.

Schrems, in turn, filed 22 discrete complaints about Facebook to the IDC. That has led to an official “statutory” audit of Facebook Ireland that’s going to get underway next week and could possibly lead to “immediate charges” if Facebook is found to be in violation of data protection laws, a representative for IDC told Fox News. Facebook could also be fined up to $137,000 (U.S. dollars) according to the U.K.-based Guardian.

“I’m not saying there was anything criminal or forbidden there, but let’s just say that, as someone wanting to work in law, there was stuff which could make it pretty impossible for me to get a job,” Schrems was quoted as saying in The Guardian. “By holding on to data its users assumed was deleted, Facebook was acting like ‘the KGB or the CIA,’ said Schrems…. It’s frightening that all this data is being held by Facebook.”

In his “Shadow Profiles” complaint, Schrems explains how Facebook goes about eliciting data from users and nonusers:

“This is done by different functions that encourage users to hand personal data of other users and nonusers to Facebook Ireland (e.g., ‘synchronizing’ mobile phones, importi../css/_invitations_to_friends__or_saving_search_queries_when_users_search_for_other_people_on_facebook.com_swabm5gvnn4aoqzs6kfosr.css).”

“Even commercial users that have a ‘page’ on facebook.com have the option to import their costumers’ e-mail-addresses to promote their page.”

“By gathering all this information, Facebook Ireland is creating extensive profiles of nonusers and it is also enriching existing user profiles. This is done in the background without notice to the data subject (‘shadow profiles’); the user or nonuser is experiencing only some of the result of these shadow profiles: there are “friend” suggestions by Facebook Ireland based on the information, or nonusers get invitations showing many users that they actually know in real life.”

“This means that Facebook Ireland is gathering excessive amounts of information about data subjects without notice or consent by the data subject.”

Here is a link to europe v. facebook.org, ironically, a Facebook page devoted to Schrem’s attempt to challenge Facebook Ireland. As of this writing, it has only 600 fans.

“The allegations are false,” Andrew Noyes, Facebook’s manager of public policy in Washington, D.C, said in a statement replying to CNET’s request for comment. He elaborated on the company’s handling of deleted information, a key aspect of the data infractions cited in the complaint.

“We enable you to send e-mails to your friends, inviting them to join Facebook. We keep the invitees’ e-mail address and name to let you know when they join the service. This practice is common among almost all services that involve invitations-from document sharing to event planning-and the assertion that Facebook is doing some sort of nefarious profiling is simply wrong. In addition, Facebook offers more control than other services by enabling people to delete their e-mail address from Facebook or to opt-out of receiving invites.”

“Also, as part of offering people messaging services, we enable people to delete messages they receive from their inbox and messages they send from their sent folder. However, people can’t delete a message they send from the recipient’s inbox or a message you receive from the sender’s sent folder. This is the way every message service ever invented works. We think it’s also consistent with people’s expectations. We look forward to making these and other clarifications to the Irish DPA.”

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20123919-93/facebook-ireland-creating-shadow-profiles-on-users-nonusers/

Share

Leave a Reply


Other News

  • FEATURED

    Zimbabwe v New Zealand ODI Series 2011 – 3rd ODI

    Zimbabwe v New Zealand ODI Series 2011 – 3rd ODI Zimbabwe v New Zealand Tue 25 Oct 2011, 08:30am BST, 09:30am local Zimbabwe beat New Zealand by one wicket Over 50. 4 runs. Bowler: Jacob Oram. Zimbabwe: 329/9(rr 6.58) Oram to Waller. Back of a length, outside off stump on the front foot pushing, to backward point for 1 run. Zimbabwe win!! Waller pushes the ball to point and they scamper through for a single. He ends on 99 not [...]

    Read more →
  • FEATURED

    Zimbabwe PM Draws Criticism Over Apparent Shift in Position on Gay Rights

    Zimbabwe PM Draws Criticism Over Apparent Shift in Position on Gay Rights Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s statement to the BBC this week contradicted what he said in March 2010 supporting the position of President Robert Mugabe who said gay rights were not up for discussion in Zimbabwe Violet Gonda | Washington Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has sparked a new controversy over gay rights with remarks he made this week to the BBC saying the right to sexual preference should be [...]

    Read more →
  • FEATURED

    China based Model to raise Zimbabwean flag in charity show

    Published: October 25, 2011 Comment         Miss April-Face of Zimbabwe, Sibo Bero is set to raise the Zimbabwean flag at an international cultural Fashion show to be held at Dalian Medical University in China, where she is currently studying medicine. The event which is set for the 29th of November, will be a showcase of different cultural, traditional and religious regalia. The purpose of the event is to fundraise for children in Zimbabwe whilst raising awareness of the country’s [...]

    Read more →
  • FEATURED

    Kambe Amalungelo Ezitabane Kumele Abengumthetho EZimbabwe Na?

    Kambe Amalungelo Ezitabane Kumele Abengumthetho EZimbabwe Na? Umkhokheli welinye lamacele eMDC uMnu. Morgan Tsvangirai uthi uma ngamazwi akhe okuthi ukunanzwa kwamalungelo abantu abayizitabane angangena kusisekelo sombuso esitsha nxa kuyikho okufuna linengi labantu elizweni. Ngu Sithandekile Mhlanga | Washington Umkhokheli welinye lamacele eMDC uMnu. Morgan Tsvangirai uthi uma ngamazwi akhe okuthi ukunanzwa kwamalungelo abantu abayizitabane angangena kusisekelo sombuso esitsha nxa kuyikho okufuna linengi labantu elizweni. Lokhu kuvezwe yisikhulumi sakhe uMnu. Luke Tamborinyoka kungxoxo ayiqhube leStudio 7 lamuhla, kulandela ingxoxo uMnu. tsvangiria [...]

    Read more →
  • FEATURED

    Kodzero dzeNgochani Dzokonzera Mutauro

    Mutungamiriri wehurumende, Va Morgan Tsvangirai, vanoti vanotsigira kodzero dzengochani kana veruzhinji vakatambira kuti dzive mubumbiro idzva remitemo yenyika. Asi ZANU PF, kuburikidza negurukota rezvemitemo, Va Patrick Chinamasa, pamwe nemutauriri we ZANU PF,  VaRugare Gumbo, vari kushoropodza VaTsvangirai vachiti hakuna zvakadaro zvichaitika munyika nekuti vana veZimbabwe havatsigiri nyaya iyi. VaTsvangirai vakaudza BBC kuti kunyange hazvo Zimbabwe ine tsika dzisingatsigiri nyaya iyi, ivo vakaita mutungamiriri wenyika, vanenge vachitsigira kodzero dzengochani kana dzaiswa mubumbiro idzva remitemo yenyika. Asi VaChinamasa vaoudzawo BBC kuti VaTsvangirai [...]

    Read more →
  • FEATURED

    Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai’s MDC Cries Foul Over Youth Member Arrests

    Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai’s MDC Cries Foul Over Youth Member Arrests Local MDC official Jacob Gwature said two members were arrested Sunday and three others were picked up Monday on allegations they chanted the slogan “Mugabe mudenga, rovera pasi” at a youth forum Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington Officials of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Mashonaland Central province said five youth members were arrested on charges of undermining President Robert Mugabe’s authority. Local MDC [...]

    Read more →
  • FEATURED Taylor, Williamson flay Zim bowlers

    Taylor, Williamson flay Zim bowlers

    October 25 2011 at 05:09pm Comment on this story AFP Ross Taylor, pictured in this file picture, and Kane Williamson hit centuries as New Zealand piled up 328 for five in the third and final ODI against Zimbabwe. BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe – Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson hit centuries as New Zealand piled up 328 for five in the third and final one-day international against Zimbabwe at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday. Taylor (119) and Williamson (100 not out) shared a [...]

    Read more →
  • FEATURED

    Premier Recognizes ZIM’s Contributions to Nova Scotia Economy

    Premier Darrell Dexter visited ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. in Haifa, Israel, today, Oct. 25, to tour the facility and recognize the company’s 40-year relationship with the Halifax Port Authority. “Next April marks four decades of business between our two regions — a milestone that should be celebrated,” said Premier Dexter. “Today’s visit was an opportunity to meet with senior executives of the shipping line, including president and CEO Rafi Danieli, to learn about their experiences in Halifax, discuss opportunities [...]

    Read more →