Facebook Will Face This Harsh, New Rule in Europe

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) will delete all data collected from users in the European Union by its facial-recognition feature and discontinue its automatic photo-tagging function after agreeing to conditions set by the Irish privacy regulator after an audit. The Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner said that Facebook Ireland had “agreed to delete collected templates for EU users by October 15” and will seek regulator consent “if it chooses to provide the feature to EU users again.”

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Facebook has faced probes from several data-protection regulators in Europe. The agency in Norway said in a statement last month that it was in the process of reviewing what kind of information the social network was collecting. The Commissioner for Data Protection in Germany also issued an “administrative order” on Friday that ruled Facebook was only allowed to create and store such profiles with the consent of users.

The Irish agency conducted on-site audits in May and July and added in Friday’s report that Facebook had shown “a constructive approach” in acting on recommendations. “Full implementation has not been achieved, but it is planned to be achieved by a specified deadline,” the Irish deputy data protection commissioner, Gary Davis, wrote in the report. “It is also clear that ongoing engagement with the company will be necessary as it continues to bring forward new innovations.”

The audit “is part of an ongoing process of oversight, and we are pleased that, as the data-protection commissioner said, the latest announcement is confirmation that we are not only compliant with European data-protection law, but we have gone beyond some of their initial recommendations,” Facebook said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg.

Of Facebook’s close to 950 million users, about 240 million are said to be based in Europe.

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