Regulators confirm Facebook has deleted European facial recognition data

February 7, 2013 - 

The Irish data protection commissioner along with a German data protection regulator have confirmed that Facebook has deleted all European facial recognition data after reviewing the social networking giant’s source code.

Reported previously in, Facebook recently announced its facial recognition feature to automatically generate tag suggestions has been re-enabled for U.S users, following “technical improvements.” The feature was first rolled out in 2010 and was widespread by 2011.

“We recently reviewed the source code and execution process used in the deletion process and can confirm that we were satisfied with the processes used by Facebook to delete the templates in line with its commitments,” Ciara O’Sullivan, spokeswoman for the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) said in an email reported by CFO World.

Ulrich Kühn, head of the Hamburg Data Protection Commissioner’s technical department, also confirmed that facial recognition data had been deleted, having also reviewed Facebook’s source code, though his only focus was on German data.

Reported previously in, in 2012, German data privacy authorities re-opened a probe into Facebook and its use of facial recognition to determine if the company was violating privacy protection laws in Europe.

Soon after, Facebook agreed to remove facial recognition data collected from its user base within the European Union.

“For the time being, it is settled,” Kühn said.

In 2012, Facebook completed the acquisition of, a prevalent Tel Aviv-based technology company that has developed a platform for efficient facial recognition in photos.

As The Next Web reports, this issue around facial recognition and deleting data could create complications for Facebook’s operations as it’s offering is no longer consistent across regions. “It’s one issue to have new features, often in beta, being tested in certain locations first, but the removal of a well-established feature such as Tag Suggestions will no doubt harm the overarching consistency and quality of the service,” the report continues.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj