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Facebook and other social networks, along with businesses that operate within the confines of Europe, or have European users and customers 'must adhere' to European law, European Commissioner Viviane Reding said earlier this month.
While Facebook said that it was 'already compliant' with European law, particularly with the new 'right to delete' or 'right to be forgotten' feature of the new Directive, one had to wonder how compliant the social networking giant actually was, or currently is.
The European bureaucrats already have it in for Facebook after a number of high-level privacy battles and data protection matters. Since Facebook opened up a datacenter on European soil in Dublin, Ireland, it has been a target for more focused criticism over the past couple of years. Europe's 'mission' against Facebook will not go away, seeing as it was the same Commissioner who said that Facebook had "nowhere to hide" over its data protection policies.
Ireland's data protection agency has launched its privacy audit into Facebook's activities, particularly to examine how data is retained and used for the company's benefit.
Companies for certain lengths of time should not hold data or when the data is no longer useful, European law says.
But Facebook appears to retain almost every shred of data that it has on its users, according to data access requests others' have published on the web, including pokes that were removed and postings that were deleted. Even friends you have removed from the site are retained in Facebook's vast data banks.
If Facebook is found to have broken European law, the social networking giant could be fined up to €100,000 ($135,000) for every breach.
Facebook has more users in Europe than it does in the United States, meaning Facebook not only has more to lose in the confines of the European space, but the data protection rules are far more severe than the United States.
Facebook at one point had a hidden form allowing European users of the social network to request their data, a provision made under European law.
But once Reddit got hold of it, this flooded the social network with requests, overwhelming Facebook's user operations team, forcing the team to hold back on any delivery of data due to the huge number of users' requests.
Facebook then decided to trim the response it would give to data requests, under Irish and European law, partly due to the 'Europe vs. Facebook' campaign's budding popularity. The 57 categories of data were pushed down to 22 data categories, which some claim that Facebook is holding back on 'vital' information that could cause damage to its data collecting practices.
Facebook also had to contend with a vast data breach, whereby 'socialbots' -- carefully engineered programs that act like real people on the social networking site -- managed to friend people, and download vast quantities of their data. This network of socialbots managed to infiltrate over 1 million profiles, partly because of the lax privacy choices made by end-users.