Minors’ data on Instagram leads to a European investigation


The Irish authorities are conducting a European investigation following complaints about the way “Instagram” of Facebook deals with the data of underage users, according to the Irish regulatory authority. The Irish Data Protection Commission launched two separate paths last month after it received complaints that phone numbers and email addresses of people under the age of 18 were available to all network users, according to a statement.

This Irish regulatory body oversees Facebook’s activities in the European Union, since the giant American network has a regional headquarters in Ireland. “Instagram is a widely used social network among children in Ireland and the rest of Europe,” said Graham Doyle, an official of the Irish sector regulator. He pointed out that the authority “examined the complaints received from individuals and identified potential problems related to the processing of personal data for children via Instagram, which requires further study.” The Irish Authority will determine whether “Instagram” has put in place the necessary technical controls to protect the data of users, especially minors, while the network requires that its users have reached the age of thirteen at least. Also, the regulator will verify that the social network respects European legislation on data protection in relation to account management.

The BBC reported Monday that data specialist David Steyer concluded last year after analyzing 200,000 accounts in the world that users under the age of eighteen were easily able to open accounts for them, usually reserved for professionals. This type of account requires that they publicly disclose their personal details, numbers and addresses, which means showing them to all users of the social network.

A spokeswoman for “Instagram” explained that the social network of Facebook cooperates closely with the Irish Commission for Data Protection, questioning the validity of Steyer’s feeds and confirming that it has always been clear that data on professional accounts is available to all users. However, the spokesperson for the network said, “We have made several updates to professional accounts since the wrong descriptions reported by Steyr in 2019, and people can choose not to display all of their private data.”

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