EU taskforce to fight new Facebook privacy policy

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Facebook has been criticised by EU data protection officials for introducing a new privacy policy that allows the social networking site to share data with other services including WhatsApp, Oculus, Instagram and the Atlas ad unit.

IDG News reports the EU has formed a task force to deal with the new policy, which is thought to violate EU privacy laws.

Facebook's privacy policy states: "We collect information when you visit or use third-party websites and apps that use our Services (like when they offer our Like button or Facebook Log In or use our measurement and advertising services). This includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our Services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us."

Additionally, authorities are unhappy the social network is claiming it can use any photos or media posted to its website for commercial purposes or that it can share personal data with third parties."We work with third party companies who help us provide and improve our Services or who use advertising or related products, which makes it possible to operate our companies and provide free services to people around the world," the privacy policy continued.

A spokeswoman for Bart Tommelein, Belgium's state secretary for privacy, said the new laws "flagrantly go against general privacy laws in Europe."

"These are several things that really go too far, we think, and the task force will investigate them," she continued.

The EU's new group will be led by officials in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and maybe Italy. The Dutch and Belgian governments have already started investigating Facebook's privacy policy switch, while the German Data Protection Commissioner has put questions to Facebook about the legality of its policy.

In a statement to IT Pro, Facebook said it has recently updated its terms and conditions to make them more "clear and concise", and is confident they comply with the applicable regulations.

"As a company with international headquarters in Dublin, we routinely review product and policy updates ­ including this one ­ with our regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, who oversees our compliance with the EU Data Protection Directive as implemented under Irish law," the statement added.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.