Facebook and privacy are not two things that always go hand in hand. In the case of Europe, it even worse: the European Union has a number of specific laws and bodies to protect the privacy of its citizens. One of these organs is the Data Protection Ireland, country where Facebook controls its European operations. After an investigation, the agency requested that the Tag Suggestions feature was disabled.
What Suggestions tag does is trace the pictures that a user sends to the site and automatically look for faces of friends in those photos. In June 2011, when it was released, the tag was automatically inserted but after a while, Facebook began to show only suggestions. Starting today, new European users who open a profile Facebook will not see this option on and until the 15th of October to social network should disable it for existing members.
Billy Hawkes, who leads the Data Protection and is analyzing the privacy issues of the social network Mark Zuckerberg said that by doing so “Facebook is demonstrating a clear commitment to conform to data protection laws”. Since Facebook says that after talks with the organ, will get “an appropriate way to have the user consent for this kind of technology”.
The feature tag suggestion is interesting and something that automates a slow process through to score and taguear friends. So I see no problem in having it enabled by default – provided you continue without the automatic insertion.
And yet, this does not seem to be a very difficult problem to solve, just make the functionality something opt-in and ready. Unless it still infringes in any way European laws – which I no longer doubt that they have a law for everything there.