Facebook Might Face €100,000 Fine for Holding Deleted User Data

“Social network will be audited by Irish data protection commissioner after Austrian law student registers 22 complaints,” reported The Guardian.

Facebook offices particularly in Ireland are being audited after a 24 year old Austrian law student, Max Schrems registered 22 complaints against Facebook practices when he leant of the fact that the social networking giant kept 1,200 pages of his personal data, much of which he had already deleted.

It all started back in June when Max Schrems after attending a lecture by a Facebook executive while on an exchange program at Santa Clara University in California, asked Facebook for a copy of all his personal data. He was amazed to receive a CD from Facebook containing all his data including the one which he had deleted from his profile.

Schrems decided to file a case against social networking giant and managed to lineup 22 individual claims against the company. The claims made from Schrems are of different natures. For instance, in one complaint he says, “Postings that have been deleted showed up in the set of data that was received from Facebook,” while the other says,” The privacy settings only regulate who can see the link to a picture. The picture itself is “public” on the internet. This makes it easy to circumvent the settings.”

ZDNet reports that the complaints against social networking giant have already produced some results as the Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has directed a team to audit Facebook’s Ireland offices.

If the company found guilty of breaching Irish data protection law, the company might have faced a penalty of €100,000 ($138,000) in addition to modify the way it handles the users’ data. Although, the amount of the fine has no value for the Facebook, it is the negative publicity that can be more harmful for the company.

Back in February 2009, Facebook made some amendments in its Terms of Services (TOS), giving itself a privilege to utilize or modify user data according to its own wills, despite the fact that user deactivates his account.

These amendments also received a strong public reaction that forced Facebook to change its opinion a bit. In one of his blog post, the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg justified the company’s stand on keeping a record of user’s data.

In one of his argument he said, “It’s very tricky to permanently delete a message you’ve sent another user, as the other user also has the right to keep his/her copy.” Certainly, the Schrems’ complaints will raise so many questions in users’ mind regarding Facebook policies about users’ personal data.

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