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Facebook provides information after formal demand from the Dutch DPA

The Dutch data protection authority (Dutch DPA) imposed a conditional fine on Facebook Inc. because it had not provided a part of the information that the Dutch DPA has formally demanded as part of its investigation. The investigation focuses on the privacy conditions of the social media company. The Dutch DPA needs the requested information from Facebook Inc., amongst others, to determine its competence and the applicability of the Dutch data protection act. Facebook Inc. indicated to provide the further information regarding the set of questions that concerns the competence of the Dutch DPA and the applicability of the Dutch data protection act. The Dutch DPA will assess the information and has therefore temporarily suspended the conditional fine.

Investigation Dutch DPA

At the end of 2014 the Dutch DPA decided to undertake an investigation into the privacy conditions of Facebook. The reason for this was the announcement from the company that the new privacy conditions would be applicable to all Facebook users from 1 January 2015. These privacy conditions ultimately came into effect on 30 January 2015.

Previously, the Dutch DPA asked Facebook Inc. to suspend the introduction of the new privacy policy until the results of the investigation would be made public. The privacy conditions give Facebook the right, amongst others, to use data and pictures from Facebook-profiles for commercial purposes.

Competence Dutch DPA

The Dutch DPA has imposed a conditional fine on Facebook Inc., because the company did not provide part of the information, despite previous requests from the Dutch DPA. The supervisor needs the requested information from Facebook Inc. amongst others for the establishment of its competence and the applicability of the Dutch data protection act.

After receiving the penalty decision, Facebook Inc. requested the court to suspend the conditional fine. The dispute between the Dutch DPA and Facebook Inc. focused on the question whether the Dutch DPA is competent to supervise Facebook Inc. and whether the company has provided all necessary information in this respect.

In the context of the judicial procedure, the Dutch DPA has provided further explanation on what information Facebook Inc. still had to provide to adequately answer those questions that concern the competence of the Dutch DPA and the applicability of the Dutch data protection act. Facebook Inc. has thereupon indicated that the company would answer these questions in full. The Dutch DPA has therefore temporarily suspended the conditional fine. Meanwhile, Facebook Inc. has suspended the previously initiated judicial procedure.

Legal remedies Facebook Inc.

It is included in the conditional fine that Facebook Inc. forfeits a penalty for each day that the company refuses to cooperate, with a maximum of 750.000 euro. The company has indicated that it disagrees with the decision of the Dutch DPA to impose a conditional fine. Facebook Inc. has therefore filed an objection to this decision on the conditional fine. The Dutch DPA will, on the basis of the new information announced by Facebook Inc., decide on the objections of Facebook Inc.