LONDON (AP) – Ireland‘s privacy regulator said Wednesday it has opened an investigation into Facebook after reports that data on more than 500 million of its users was found dumped online, in a suspected violation of strict European Union privacy rules.
The Data Protection Commission said it decided to start investigating following “multiple international media reports” about the data dump.
News reports earlier this month said the data was found on a website for hackers and contained information on 533 million users from more than 100 countries, including names, Facebook IDs, phone numbers, locations, birthdates and email addresses.
The watchdog said it launched the investigation after it “engaged with Facebook Ireland” and raised questions about its compliance with privacy rules. The company responded, the Irish agency said, suggesting it wasn’t satisfied with the answers.
Facebook has downplayed the problem, saying it had been previously reported and fixed in 2019. The company said “malicious actors” didn’t hack its systems but used automated software to scrape the data from Facebook‘s platform.
Still, it’s another example of the vast amount of information collected by Facebook and other social media sites, and the limits to how secure that information is.
Facebook didn’t reply immediately to a request for comment. The Menlo Park, California-based company’s European headquarters is located in Ireland, making that country’s watchdog its lead privacy regulator for the European Union under a system known as “one-stop shop.”
Irish regulators are already working on a dozen other investigations of Facebook and Instagram over suspected privacy breaches.
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