Facebook and what it does with its members’ information is raising hackles again.
First, there was the backlash to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unveiling of “frictionless” sharing of information between users. Two congressmen, backed by a number of consumer groups, have called on the Federal Communications Commission to investigate how Facebook monitors users’ activity online.
And now, across the Atlantic, a 24-year-old Austrian law student, Max Schrems, is taking on the social network giant. The excited German-language press have described it as a “David versus Goliath” battle.
It all started with a university term paper and Shrems’s request for access to the data Facebook was holding about him. The CD he received from the company contained hundreds of pages of information, much of which he knew he had previously deleted from his FB pages.
Schrems, who was a visiting student at Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara University last year, says he’s not just worried about gossip. He argues that with cybercrime on the increase, personal information can be badly misused.
He wants to use European privacy law to force the company to reveal exactly what information it keeps about its users.
Dublin has been the international headquarters of Facebook since 2008. That means that users in Europe, as well as the Middle East and Africa, are supported by the company’s Irish offices which are, in turn, subject to European law.
The Irish Data Protection Commission is now auditing how Facebook stores data on hundreds of millions of European users.
The report could have significant economic impact on Ireland, as The Irish Times reports, and not just because the country hosts Facebook. .
Low taxation in Ireland has also lured other digital and social networking sites, including Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, to set up international operations there.
After its spectacular economic crash in 2008, Ireland can ill-afford to lose their business.