By Stephen Gardner
The draft report, prepared by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and Information and Communications Technology (ICRI) at Belgium's Leuven University, said that it was “highly questionable” whether Facebook's approach to securing consent for data processing resulted in legally valid user consent.
To be legally valid, user consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous, as required under the EU Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC), the ICRI said in questioning Facebook's policy.
In particular, Facebook's system by which users can opt out of behavioral profiling and advertising “does not meet the requirements for legally valid consent,” and users are given no ability to opt out from processing of their location data, the draft report said.
It added that Facebook also gives insufficient control to users over how their data from a variety of sources, including from data brokers and applications, are combined “in relation to profiling for third-party advertising purposes,” and that Facebook's terms “do not properly acknowledge the data subject rights of its users.”
In addition, Facebook's collection of data, particularly geolocation information, from mobile devices is likely to be noncompliant with the EU e-Privacy Directive (2002/58/EC), while several clauses of Facebook's contract terms violate European consumer protection law, the report said.
Sarah Boulerhcha, a Belgian Privacy Commission spokeswoman, told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 23 that it was unclear when the investigation report would be completed and formally handed over to the privacy commission.
Facebook “places too much burden on its users,” who are “expected to navigate Facebook's complex web of settings … in search of possible opt-outs,” the university institute said.
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The draft report, “From Social Media Service to Advertising Network: A Critical Analysis of Facebook's Revised Policies and Terms,” is available at http://www.law.kuleuven.be/icri/en/news/item/facebooks-revised-policies-and-terms-v1-1.pdf.
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