Facebook to increase transparency and improve privacy at Irish DPC’s request

Facebook released a post yesterday detailing the findings of a three month probe by the Irish Data Protection Commission. Facebook has agreed to make several changes to the platform based on the recommendations of the audit. Furthermore, the company has promised more transparency in what they do with our data, how they do it and more adherence to Opt In policies.

All in all, there will be 45 changes made in the coming months, all of them related to how Facebook handles the privacy and security of users.

First and foremost, Facebook will be simplifying the explanations of its Data Use Policy. In fact, they’re going to make sure that people take note of these privacy policies by increasing the size of the links and permanently including links to the site’s Privacy Policy, Statement of Rights, andHelpCenteron the Facebook Home Page. They’re also going to explain how users’ data is being used in targeted ads.

They’ve addressed several of the charges made against them during the trial, particularly the one about Facial Recognition. Now, they’re going to ask first if users want to partake in Facial Recognition – which is exactly how it should be. Same goes with tags.

Also, Facebook will be addressing the cookie issue by reducing the amount of data that they gather from people when logged off. Recalling how big of a stir that issue caused a few months ago, this piece of news really comes as a welcome relief. It should also be noted that the DPC has confirmed that the cookies were not, in fact, used for ad targeting.

Facebook is also going to fix how they handle and retain data with special regard to what EU law dictates, as the EU is more stringent with its data retention laws than theUS. Before, Facebook had been retaining ad-click data indefinitely, but now they’ve reduced that period to just 2 years. All data thereafter will be anonymized. Facebook will also reduce the storage time for users’ search history to only 6 months.

Also, deleted data will finally be ‘deleted’. If you make a request to deactivate your account, all your data will be deleted within 40 days.

Facebook will also be reducing the privileges of application developers. All data permissions dialog boxes will now be granular and privacy policies will be given more emphasis.

Police enforcers are also required to present validation from a senior officer and a full explanation as to why they need the data whenever they request evidence from Facebook.

All these, along with several other changes, will be evaluated by the DPC once they conduct the audit next year.

You can read the full 150 page Report of Audit to get all of the details.

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