Ireland's Privacy Regulator Is Investigating Instagram

Facebook could face a huge privacy fine after the chief European Union (EU)  data watchdog, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), launched a review into how Instagram has exposed the contact details of millions of children. 

The DPC,which is the main data privacy regulator in the EU, has received complaints from individuals and has identified “potential concerns” in relation to the processing of children’s personal data on Instagram.  

The inquiry will also consider whether Facebook has the legal basis to process the data and whether it employs adequate protections and/or restrictions on Instagram.

The purpose of the inquiry is to consider whether Facebook meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency requirements in its provision of Instagram to children.

Instagram’s profile and account settings will be the focus of  a second inquiry, examining whether the social media company is adhering to the regulator’s data protection requirements.

Ireland hosts the European headquarters of a number of US technology firms, making the DPC the EU’s lead regulator under the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  regime introduced in 2018. The new rules give regulators the power to impose fines for violations of up to 4 per cent of a company’s global revenue or €20 million, whichever is higher.

All Instagram users can change their personal Instagram accounts to ones designed for businesses, which unlike personal profiles, gives them statistics such as how popular their photos and videos were. But, a business account also means that the user’s personal contact details are publicly displayed on their profile, allowing anybody to contact the children outside of the app.

Until recently, Instagram required all business accounts to show a phone number or email address, so users could not opt out of having their public information displayed. It still allows anybody to set up a business account, with no verification to check if they are actually running a business.

Data Protection Commission:     Irish Times:         Reuters:       Telegraph:       Benzinga

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