European Activists Discuss Privacy Fears With Facebook

It all started a while ago when law student Max Schrems asked Facebook to send him his personal data “recorded” in the three years he has been using the site. What he got, was a 1222 CD based manuscript which included long forgotten chats and pokes he sent to friends, some of which dated back to 2008.

You’d think he would be grateful the company has such an open policy, but no, in response Max Schrems launched an online campaigned focusing on how to force the social media giant to abide by the European data privacy laws. Facebook insists that he already does that. Out of this feud – Europe vs. Facebook was born.

Now, things have escalated, and this week Facebook’s European and director of policy Richard Allan and some other American Facebook executives are apparently being forced to meet with Max Schrems and his group of Europe v. Facebook supporters to discuss the complaints filled by the activists with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC).

The issues that the Europe v. Facebook is concerned about are related to advertisements. But that’s how Facebook makes most of its revenue – by selling precisely targeted ads. How does it know who to target? Well, simple by using the information on your profile. So basically, your info is sold to advertisers, for profit. You can see now why activists might be concerned.

Schrems himself tends to put all the blame on the U.S. corporate culture for Facebook’s policies saying that Americans don’t really understand the concept of data protections. DPC has already started an investigation following the complaints from Facebook v Europe, and an audit has already been released back in December, that revealed Facebook’s shortcomings in the privacy department. Also ways to improve them have been suggested. Facebook already submitted to some changes, saying that the “Like” button logs will become obsolete after 90 days.

But Schrems still doesn’t think it is enough, that’s why he is meeting Facebook executives, in the hope that his fears will be heard and resonated with.


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