Facebook has suspended the facial-recognition tool in Europe following recommendations from the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland. (Photo : REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)
Facebook has stopped the use of its facial-recognition tool used in tagging photographs on its site in Europe, the BBC reported.
The decision comes after the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland issued recommendations for improved privacy settings in December 2011. The DPC gave the social media company six months to meet the terms of the recommendations, the BBC reported.
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Facebook director of policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Richard Allan, told the BBC, "The EU has looked at the issue of securing consent for this kind of technology and issued new guidance."
"Our intention is to reinstate the tag-suggest feature, but consistent with new guidelines. The service will need a different form of notice and consent," he added.
According to the BBC, the feature's removal was not required and is already unavailable to new users. It will be completely unavailable to users in Europe by October 15.
Recommendations from the DPC included increased transparency on how data is used, how users are targeted for ads and greater privacy setting control by users. However, the DPC announced on Friday that Facebook required additional improvement and requested another update from the company within four weeks.
The BBC reported that Deputy Commissioner Gary Davis said the DPC was also concerned about whether photos were actually being deleted within the 40 days required under Irish Data Protection law.
Davis added, "We also want some clarity about inactive and deactivated accounts- we think Facebook should contact those users after a period of time and see whether they want to come back."
Despite some additional concerns from the DPC, Allen told the BBC on Friday, "When you think of the very wide ranging investigation the DPC carried out into Facebook, they looked at every aspect of our service, and our overall scorecard is very good." He added, "In the vast majority of areas the DPC looked into, they found we are behaving in a way that's not just compliant but a reasonable model for good practice."
Davis also told the BBC that the DCP would like the social media site to better explain its privacy features to its users. "We would also like more information in relation to advertising-there is the potential for the use of terms that could be sensitive," Davis said.
However, discussions for improvements have gone well he said. "The discussions and negotiations that have taken place, while often robust on both sides, were at all times constructive with a collective goal of compliance with data protection requirements."