Facebook data policies questioned by students in Irish court

Facebook’s handling of personal data is to be scrutinised in an Irish court by a student group.The group calling itself Europe v Facebook is unhappy about “half hearted solutions” following an audit by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC).

The group says it will take the IDPC to court for what is sees as failures to implement the changes.

It believes the case could eventually go to the European Court of Justice.

“If we get these things before the courts, it is very likely that it goes all the way to the European Court of Justice. Such a case would be a landmark for the whole IT industry,” said Max Schrems, the spokesman for Europe v Facebook.

Despite the fact that, under Irish law, it will have to take the IDPC to court rather than Facebook, the group still sees it as a battle with the social network.

“In the end it will be us against Facebook because any outcome will affect how it can use data,” Mr Schrems said.

The IDPC said that is waiting to hear from Europe v Facebook but that it would “commence the process” as soon as it did.

The group has been campaigning for better data protection for Facebook users for over a year and filed numerous complaints with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

It triggered an audit which required Facebook to disclose more user data and, importantly, to turn off its facial recognition feature in Europe.

The feature put forward suggestions when registered users could be tagged in photographs. But the group does not think the changes go far enough.

“The Irish authority is miles away from other European data protection authorities in its understanding of the law, and failed to investigate many things. Facebook also gave the authority the run-around,” it said in a statement.

It feels that the social network has failed to fully implement the changes.