Republic of Ireland news

Instagram probed over personal data of children

Regulators will assess whether Facebook, which owns Instagram, employs adequate safeguards for children
Cate McCurry, PA

Instagram is being investigated by the Republic's privacy regulators over how the site handles children's personal data.

The Data Protection Commission launched an investigation last month following a number of complaints.

As part of the investigation, the regulators will assess whether Facebook, which owns Instagram, employs adequate safeguards for children and whether it has a legal basis to access young people's data.

It is also looking at whether the social media giant's profile and account settings are appropriate for children and follow strict European Union privacy regulations.

Facebook said it is in close contact with the commission and is "cooperating with their inquiries".

The investigations were first reported by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, which said they came after a US data scientist aired concerns that Instagram made public the email addresses and phone numbers of people under 18.

The minimum age to use Instagram is 13.

Data scientist David Stier said last year that his analysis found users, including those under 18, who switched their account types to business accounts also had their contact information displayed on their profile.

According to reports, Instagram users were switching to business accounts in order to see statistics on how many likes their posts were getting, after Instagram started removing the feature from personal accounts in some countries to help with mental health.

Facebook said it updated its business accounts since Mr Stier's findings and "people can now opt out of including their contact information entirely".

In a statement, 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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