Irish Regulator Probes Instagram's Handling Of Children's Data

(RTTNews) - Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner or DPC, the European Union's main data privacy regulator, is investigating Facebook over its handling of millions of children's personal data on Instagram, reports said.

The agency has started two separate inquiries regarding information that email addresses and phone numbers of users under 18 were made public by the Facebook-owned app and put children at risk of grooming or hacking. The action was taken after receiving complaints from individuals.

If found to be guilty of breaking privacy laws, the social media giant could face large fines. The DPC is Facebook's primary authority for data protection in the EU and UK, and has the power to fine it billions of dollars.

Instagram allows children from 13 years to open accounts. As per the available features in the app, users are able to change their personal Instagram accounts to ones designed for businesses mainly for getting statistics about the popularity of their photos and videos.

But, such a switch to business accounts would publicly display user's personal contact details. Instagram allegedly allows anyone to set up a business account, without any verification, and does not anonymize the phone numbers and email addresses, unlike most online service providers do.

In the DPS inquiries, the first one looks to establish if Facebook has the legal basis to process the data and whether it employs adequate protections and/or restrictions on Instagram. It will also consider whether Facebook meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency requirements.

In the second inquiry, the agency will check Instagram's profile and account settings, examining whether it is adhering to DPC's data protection requirements.

DPC Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle said, "The DPC has been actively monitoring complaints received from individuals in this area and has identified potential concerns in relation to the processing of children's personal data on Instagram which require further examination."

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