Facebook Dating Service EU Launch Halted After Failing Privacy Law Regs

Facebook has been forced to halt their dating service European launch after failing to satisfy required privacy regulations.

It’s just the latest instalment on the rocky relationship between dating services and privacy. This time, it affects the launch of Facebook’s dating service.

In the last month and a half, we’ve been seeing a number of stories crop up over privacy concerns surrounding online dating. In late January, OKCupid and Grindr were both flagged by the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) for their handling of personal information. Some of the specific concerns revolved around how personal information was sold to third party and whether or not proper consent was given.

Then, earlier this week, Tindr found itself facing a GDPR probe over its handling of personal information in the wake of those earlier revelations.

Suffice to say, the online dating world has been hit with a few blows thanks to privacy concerns. If the online dating sector is hoping to get a reprieve from this, well, this story won’t likely be that reprieve they are hoping for. News is surfacing that Facebook had plans to launch their own dating service in Europe. Unfortunately, they failed to meet their European privacy law requirements. From TechDirt:

Facebook has been left red-faced after being forced to call off the launch date of its dating service in Europe because it failed to give its lead EU data regulator enough advanced warning — including failing to demonstrate it had performed a legally required assessment of privacy risks.

Yesterday, Ireland’s Independent.ie newspaper reported that the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) — using inspection and document seizure powers set out in Section 130 of the country’s Data Protection Act — had sent agents to Facebook’s Dublin office seeking documentation that Facebook had failed to provide.

In a statement on its website, the DPC said Facebook first contacted it about the rollout of the dating feature in the EU on February 3.

“We were very concerned that this was the first that we’d heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature, considering that it was their intention to roll it out tomorrow, 13 February,” the regulator writes. “Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/documentation was provided to us on 3 February in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment [DPIA] or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland.”

This latest news represents at least a double blow. On the one hand, this can end up being another reason not to trust online dating sites with your personal information for some users. The other blow is the fact that this seems to be a continuing trend of privacy lapses for the company. Back in July of 2019, the company was fined $5 Billion by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In September of the same year, the company suffered from another data leak which saw 419 million accounts compromised. Then, in December, Facebook suffered from another data leak which saw 267 million accounts compromised.

In comparison to those last three stories, a stalled launch doesn’t really seem like such a bad thing. Still, this is probably one of the last things Facebook wanted to be added to their user privacy history. If anything, the company is really hoping to get past this whole issue of them not being a company to be trusted with people’s personal information. This latest delay due to privacy concerns is certainly not helping Facebook’s image.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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