Facebook fixes most privacy concerns raised by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner

Facebook complied with most recommendations set by the Irish data protection authority

Facebook has complied with most, but not all, of the recommendations that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) set last year, the agency said Friday.

A new audit showed that "most of the recommendations have been fully implemented to our full satisfaction," wrote deputy commissioner Gary Davis in the report detailing the review of Facebook's policy changes.

There is better transparency for the user, better control over user settings and an enhanced ability for users to delete data and clear retention periods for deleted personal data, according to Davis. There are also improvements to users' rights to have ready access to their personal data and the capacity of Facebook to ensure rigorous assessment of compliance with Irish and E.U. data protection requirements, he said.

And in some cases, such as a feature that uses facial recognition to suggest people be tagged in users' photographs, Facebook has gone beyond the initial recommendations at the request of the Irish data authority to accommodate views of other data protection authorities in Europe, said Davis.

In some areas, however, full compliance has not yet been achieved but is planned by a deadline four weeks out, he wrote. Action is needed on user education, the deletion of data shared with third-party sites and fully verified account deletion, Davis added. Facebook still needs to be monitored going forward, especially since the social network is constantly adding features to its service, he said.

The Irish data protection authority released a critical privacy audit of Facebook in December 2011 and the agency had more then a dozen recommendations for how Facebook could change its policies and improve its privacy protections. If Facebook complied with the recommendations, chances were small that the social network would be found to infringe on Irish privacy laws, the data protection commissioner said at the time.

Shortly after the audit, Facebook said it planned to change the way it retained data and revamp privacy controls to comply with the Irish recommendations. Last April Facebook added to its data download tool log-in and log out information, unconfirmed friendship requests and information about pokes, among other categories requested by the authority.

Facebook is required to provide users with personal data it holds about them on request under European Law. A recent check of the data stored by the social network revealed that Facebook does not disclose everything it stores upon a users' request and gave insight in the way it targets its users with advertising.

The Irish DPC said on Friday that as with the earlier audit report, the re-audit "does not involve formal decisions by the Office on the complaints it had received" about Facebook. But it could be expected that some issues have been dealt with and the DPC will address outstanding complaints separately.

Facebook had no immediate comment on the DPC findings but promised a written statement later in the day.

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