Facebook under fire from the Data Protection Commission for alleged mishandling of minors’ data

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) is the main independent national data protection in Ireland. It is one of several data protection authorities in Europe. The DPC launched two inquiries into Facebook regarding the handling of minors’ data in September after they received complaints from individuals and identified personal concerns regarding the handling of children’s personal data on Instagram.

The DPC stated that the protection of children's data is an area that is of high priority, especially in today's world where a large number of children are prevalently active on social media platforms. The DPC is concerned about the data handling capabilities of mainstream data handlers that operate within Ireland and Europe. It is of paramount importance that the data of all citizens be safeguarded and kept private so as to ensure the minimalism of the chances of the breach of the safety of individuals. Sensitive information of children in the wrong hands may lead to severe infringement of safety and wellbeing; so it is essential that the social media giants that handle this data be extremely careful with the protection and processing of this data.

The DPC launched two inquiries into Facebook as it is the owner of Instagram and so is accountable for any security breaches that occur on Instagram.

The first inquiry is to evaluate Facebook's reliance on certain legal bases for the processing of sensitive data. This means that the DPC will investigate to ascertain whether Facebook has a legal basis by which it processes children's data and whether it employs the necessary level of protection and restrictions on Instagram for children. This inquiry will also seek to establish whether Facebook has the necessary content restriction in place to make Instagram safe and appropriate for children.

The second inquiry will be to assess Instagram's profile and account settings and whether these settings are up to the mark to be able to provide children with the level of privacy and anonymity that is essential for children on social media platforms. In addition to these assessments, the DPC will look to see whether Facebook is operating within the confines set by the General Data Protection and Regulation, or GDPR, in respect to the terms set by the Data Protection by Design and Default section of the GDPR, especially with regard to Facebook’s responsibility safeguard the data protection rights of minor as vulnerable individuals.

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