Ireland opens GDPR investigation into Facebook leak – TechSwitch

    Facebook’s lead knowledge supervisor within the European Union has opened an investigation into whether or not the tech big violated knowledge safety guidelines vis-a-vis the leak of information reported earlier this month.
    Here’s the Irish Data Protection Commission’s assertion:
    “The Data Protection Commission (DPC) right this moment launched an own-volition inquiry pursuant to part 110 of the Data Protection Act 2018 in relation to a number of worldwide media stories, which highlighted {that a} collated dataset of Facebook person private knowledge had been made obtainable on the web. This dataset was reported to comprise private knowledge referring to roughly 533 million Facebook customers worldwide. The DPC engaged with Facebook Ireland in relation to this reported challenge, elevating queries in relation to GDPR compliance to which Facebook Ireland furnished various responses.
    The DPC, having thought-about the data offered by Facebook Ireland concerning this matter up to now, is of the opinion that a number of provisions of the GDPR and/or the Data Protection Act 2018 could have been, and/or are being, infringed in relation to Facebook Users’ private knowledge.
    Accordingly, the Commission considers it acceptable to find out whether or not Facebook Ireland has complied with its obligations, as knowledge controller, in reference to the processing of private knowledge of its customers by way of the Facebook Search, Facebook Messenger Contact Importer and Instagram Contact Importer options of its service, or whether or not any provision(s) of the GDPR and/or the Data Protection Act 2018 have been, and/or are being, infringed by Facebook on this respect.”
    Facebook has been contacted for remark. Update: The firm didn’t present a press release however confirmed it’s involved with regulators to reply their questions. Update 2: Facebook has now despatched this assertion: “We are cooperating fully with the IDPC in its enquiry, which relates to features that make it easier for people to find and connect with friends on our services. These features are common to many apps and we look forward to explaining them and the protections we have put in place.”
    The transfer comes after the European Commission intervened to use stress on Ireland’s knowledge safety commissioner. Justice commissioner, Didier Reynders, tweeted Monday that he had spoken with Helen Dixon in regards to the Facebook knowledge leak.
    “The Commission continues to follow this case closely and is committed to supporting national authorities,” he added, occurring to induce Facebook to “cooperate actively and swiftly to shed light on the identified issues”.

    Today I spoke with Helen Dixon @DPCIreland in regards to the #FacebookLeak. The Commission continues to comply with this case carefully and is dedicated to supporting nationwide authorities. We additionally name on @Facebook to cooperate actively and swiftly to make clear the recognized points.
    — Didier Reynders (@dreynders) April 12, 2021

    A spokeswoman for the Commission confirmed the digital assembly between Reynders and Dixon, saying: “Dixon knowledgeable the Commissioner in regards to the points at stake and the completely different tracks of labor to make clear the state of affairs.
    “They both urge Facebook to cooperate swiftly and to share the necessary information. It is crucial to shed light on this leak that has affected millions of European citizens.”
    “It is up to the Irish data protection authority to assess this case. The Commission remains available if support is needed. The situation will also have to be further analyzed for the future. Lessons should be learned,” she added.
    The revelation {that a} vulnerability in Facebook’s platform enabled unidentified ‘malicious actors’ to extract the private knowledge (together with e mail addresses, cell phone numbers and extra) of greater than 500 million Facebook accounts up till September 2019 — when Facebook claims it mounted the difficulty — solely emerged within the wake of the information being discovered free of charge obtain on a hacker discussion board earlier this month.

    All 533,000,000 Facebook data had been simply leaked free of charge.
    This implies that when you’ve got a Facebook account, this can be very probably the telephone quantity used for the account was leaked.
    I’ve but to see Facebook acknowledging this absolute negligence of your knowledge.
    — Alon Gal (Under the Breach) (@UnderTheBreach) April 3, 2021

    Despite the European Union’s knowledge safety framework (the GDPR) baking in a regime of information breach notifications — with the chance of hefty fines for compliance failure — Facebook didn’t inform its lead EU knowledge supervisory when it discovered and stuck the difficulty. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) was left to seek out out within the press, like everybody else.
    Nor has Facebook individually knowledgeable the 533M+ customers that their data was taken with out their data or consent, saying final week it has no plans to take action — regardless of the heightened danger for affected customers of spam and phishing assaults.
    Privacy consultants have, in the meantime, been swift to level out that the corporate has nonetheless not confronted any regulatory sanction underneath the GDPR — with various investigations ongoing into varied Facebook companies and practices and no selections but issued in these circumstances by Ireland’s DPC. (It has up to now solely issued one cross-border choice, fining Twitter round $550ok in December over a breach it disclosed again in 2019.)

    Last month the European Parliament adopted a decision on the implementation of the GDPR which expressed “great concern” over the functioning of the mechanism — elevating specific concern over the Irish knowledge safety authority by writing that it “generally closes most cases with a settlement instead of a sanction and that cases referred to Ireland in 2018 have not even reached the stage of a draft decision pursuant to Article 60(3) of the GDPR”.
    The newest Facebook knowledge scandal additional amps up the stress on the DPC — offering additional succour to critics of the GDPR who argue the regulation is unworkable underneath the present foot-dragging enforcement construction, given the foremost bottlenecks in Ireland (and Luxembourg) the place many tech giants select to find regional HQ.

    After the @EP_Justice and different EU DPAs raised considerations, the Irish Parliament is now additionally planning to look into the work of @DPCIreland in a listening to on April 27th.
    Glad to see pro-active steps to debate how #GDPR will be successfully enforced in all EU member states! 😁👍
    — Max Schrems 🇪🇺 (@maxschrems) April 10, 2021

    On Thursday Reynders made his concern over Ireland’s response to the Facebook knowledge leak public, tweeting to say the Commission had been involved with the DPC.
    He does have cause to be personally involved. Earlier final week Politico reported that Reynders’ personal digits had been among the many cache of leaked knowledge, together with these of the Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel — and “dozens of EU officials”. However the issue of weak GDPR enforcement impacts everybody throughout the bloc — some 446M individuals whose rights aren’t being uniformly and vigorously upheld.
    “A strong enforcement of GDPR is of key importance,” Reynders additionally remarked on Twitter, urging Facebook to “fully cooperate with Irish authorities”.
    Last week Italy’s knowledge safety fee additionally referred to as on Facebook to right away provide a service for Italian customers to test whether or not they had been affected by the breach. But Facebook made no public acknowledgment or response to the decision. Under the GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism the tech big can restrict its regulatory publicity by direct dealing solely with its lead EU knowledge supervisor in Ireland.
    A two-year Commission overview of how the information safety regime is functioning, which reported final summer season, already drew consideration to issues with patchy enforcement. A scarcity of progress on unblocking GDPR bottlenecks is thus a rising drawback for the Commission — which is within the midst of proposing a bundle of extra digital laws. That makes the enforcement level a really urgent one as EU lawmakers are being requested how new digital guidelines shall be upheld if current ones preserve being trampled on?
    It’s actually notable that the EU’s govt has proposed a unique, centralized enforcement construction for incoming pan-EU laws focused at digital companies and tech giants. Albeit, getting settlement from all of the EU’s establishments and elected representatives on reshape platform oversight appears to be like difficult.
    And in the intervening time the information leaks proceed: Motherboard reported Friday on one other alarming leak of Facebook knowledge it discovered being made accessible through a bot on the Telegram messaging platform that offers out the names and telephone numbers of customers who’ve appreciated a Facebook web page (in trade for a price except the web page has had lower than 100 likes).
    The publication stated this knowledge seems to be separate to the 533M+ scraped dataset — after it ran checks in opposition to the bigger dataset through the breach recommendation website, haveibeenpwned. It additionally requested Alon Gal, the one who found the aforementioned leaked Facebook dataset being supplied free of charge obtain on-line, to match knowledge obtained through the bot and he didn’t discover any matches.
    We contacted Facebook in regards to the supply of this leaked knowledge and can replace this report with any response.
    In his tweet in regards to the 500M+ Facebook knowledge leak final week, Reynders made reference to the Europe Data Protection Board (EDPB), a steering physique comprised of representatives from Member State knowledge safety businesses which works to make sure a constant utility of the GDPR.
    However the physique doesn’t lead on GDPR enforcement — so it’s not clear why he would invoke it. Optics is one chance, if he was making an attempt to encourage a notion that the EU has vigorous and uniform enforcement constructions the place individuals’s knowledge is worried.
    “Under the GDPR, enforcement and the investigation of potential violations lies with the national supervisory authorities. The EDPB does not have investigative powers per se and is not involved in investigations at the national level. As such, the EDPB cannot comment on the processing activities of specific companies,” an EDPB spokeswoman instructed us after we enquired about Reynders’ remarks.
    But she additionally famous the Commission attends plenary conferences of the EDPB — including it’s potential there shall be an trade of views amongst members in regards to the Facebook leak case sooner or later, as attending supervisory authorities “regularly exchange information on cases at the national level”.


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