Irish privacy commissioner calls on Facebook for better user controls

Facebook can't catch a break these days when it comes to privacy, but when you become the gatekeeper for info on hundreds of millions of users, that's hardly surprising. The latest in a long line of VIPs to sound the whistle is the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes. The BBC reports that he's asked Facebook to implement a series of changes giving users greater control over how their private information is used on Facebook, and who has access to it.

Hawkes' concerns mostly center around a lack of transparency between Facebook and the web apps that run on the platform. He wants Facebook to inform users on exactly how their data is used by apps, who has access to it, and then give them the power to remove personal information from multiple databases. The request extends to Facebook developers and advertisers – ideally, users would be able to press a button and remove, say, their work history from Facebook, all Facebook apps and all its adverting partners.

For its part, the Irish division of Facebook seemed to take the review in stride. "This was a challenging engagement both for my office and for Facebook Ireland. The audit has found a positive approach and commitment on the part of [Facebook Ireland] to respecting the privacy rights of its users," replied the company in a prepared statement. The Dublin office a large part of its parent company, handling all data on the service that doesn't originate from the United States or Canada. This arrangement means that Facebook is governed under EU data protection laws. Facebook is no stranger to security and privacy concerns, the latest coming over its new Timeline profile feature.

Commissioner Hawkes has given Facebook Ireland six months to implement his suggested changes, with an additional review to be conducted in July.