Facebook has attracted a lot of ire in the European Union over the photo-tagging feature. The feature essentially allow users to tag friends in pictures, thereby compromising their privacy to a certain degree. The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) of Ireland, Bill Hawkes, has been looking into this matter for quite some time, and now Facebook has agreed to suspend the tool for EU users altogether.
To run automatic facial recognition and consequently, photo tagging, Facebook needed to keep a database of its users’ photos. This caused a lot of controversy, with civil rights activists complaining that the feature undermines user privacy as well as the security of personal data.
Negotiations between Facebook and DPC have been ongoing since quite some time. Now that Facebook has suspended the feature for EU users, Bill Hawkes has said that the social network “is sending a clear signal of its wish to demonstrate its commitment to best practice in data protection compliance.”
Facebook, on the other hand, has plans of reintroducing the feature later with certain modifications so as to sufficiently address DPC’s concerns. According to Facebook’s director of policy for Europe, Richard Allan, “The EU has looked at the issue of securing consent for this kind of technology and issued new guidance. Our intention is to reinstate the tag-suggest feature, but consistent with new guidelines. The service will need a different form of notice and consent.”
However, this is not the end of DPC’s reservations towards Facebook. The Commissioner also wants Facebook to educate its users about the privacy settings in a clearer manner.