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Facebook shuts down photo recognition tool in Europe

24 September 2012
Facebook shuts down photo recognition tool in Europe

Facebook is shutting down its facial-recognition photo tool in Europe, following objections from the regulator.

The facial recognition tool is no longer available to new Facebook users and existing templates will be removed by October 15.

The move follows a review in December 2011 by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) which said that Facebook's "tag suggest" feature contravened the European Union data privacy laws.

Following the review, it gave Facebook six months to comply with its recommendations. Concerns regarding data protection standards within the European arm of the business have since been addressed, and the Commissioner Billy Hawkes has expressed satisfaction at the action already taken by Facebook, which extends beyond the recommendations of the review.

Facebook says it is confident in its successful compliance, yet similar issues remain under investigation in Germany and the US.

The Dublin-based DPC review of Facebook privacy policy is ongoing, as concerns remain regarding photos marked for deletion, which may not be deleted within 40 days, as required under Irish Data Protection law.  Inactive and deactivated accounts are also under scrutiny, amongst other issues regarding data protection, and so the DPC has requested a further update on developments within the next four weeks.

Since the review last year, the Norwegian data protection regulator has also started probing the feature as has the Article 29 Working Party (WP 29), a group of privacy regulators from all over the EU.

Amanda Knowles

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