Facebook has once again come under scrutiny, this time involving underage users of Instagram. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission has initiated investigations into Facebook’s operations after concerns were raised about the way the social networking giant handled personal information of minors using Instagram.
The report comes via The Telegraph, which revealed that Instagram was found to have made the email IDs and phone numbers of users under the age of 18 public. The Irish regulator has launched two investigations, after a U.S. based data scientist pointed out the problem. The first of two investigations launched by the DPC is going to be examining whether Facebook had any legal basis for having such information in the first place. "This inquiry will also consider whether Facebook meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency requirements in its provision of Instagram to children," Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle told Reuters.
The second inquiry will be focused on Instagram itself, trying to determine whether the photo-sharing site’s account and profile settings followed the data protection guidelines set forth by the DPC. If found guilty of violating the protection guidelines, Instagram could be liable to pay fines of up to 4 percent of its annual global revenue, or EUR 20 million, whichever is higher. Given that there are two investigations going on around the same matter, the fine would be applicable for each investigation independently.
Facebook has been under constant vigilance ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. The company has faced many enquiries by government agencies in recent times, but no concrete action has ever been taken. Most agencies have relied on Facebook to just do the right thing after, but not much has changed. As people and governments worry about Facebook’s extensive abilities to track people’s activities, Facebook has gone ahead and merged Instagram and Messenger’s messaging systems. Facebook continues to move towards integrating its three service; Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, despite concerns.