Facebook Privacy Policies Challenged By Austrian Law Student


A CD containing 1,222 pages of data sparked yet another challenge of Facebook’s privacy policies, this one from a 24-year-old Austraian law student named Max Schrems.

This is the latest of 22 formal legal complaints that Schrems has filed against Facebook filed with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

Schrems has been filing these challenges via an online campaign he started in August called Europe Versus Facebook.

He explained his motives to the Associated Press: “I am not interested in money. What interests me is that the company follows the law. It only takes a click to do something about it.”

Schrems asked Facebook for a record of his personal data after three years on the social network, and received the previously mentioned CD.

Schrems told AP the CD contained data including pokes from as far back as 2008, invitations he never responded to, and deleted chats, adding that European law restricts how long companies are allowed to retain information to a few months, in most cases.

“I wondered: What are they doing with my data? I thought through everything that one can do with that amount of information, all the marketing that is possible,” he said to AP.

He also said the CD only held information from 23 out of a possible 57 data categories, but Facebook responded that it furnished all of the information it was legally required to turn over.

Facebook told AP that the social network is allowed to retain data covering “a range of other things that are not personal information, including Facebook’s proprietary fraud-protection measures, and any other analytical procedure that Facebook runs.”

Facebook Director of European Public Policy Richard Allan was more conciliatory in testimony before a German parliamentary committee on new media, according to AP, which quoted him saying, “Have we done enough in the past to deal with you? No. Will we do more now? Yes.”

Schrem’s challenges aren’t an isolated example in Europe, as the European Commission and other countries in the region have inquired or complained about Facebook’s privacy practices.

Readers: How concerned are you about Facebook’s use of your data?

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