* Ireland's regulator says tech giants respond to requests
* LinkedIn says key exec moves to Dublin HQ privacy team
* Watchdog to return to Facebook offices in July
* LinkedIn under investigation for data breach
* Regulator bucks trend in Ireland, to boost staff numbers
By Lorraine Turner
DUBLIN, June 28 Technology groups Facebook
and LinkedIn have agreed to beef up their
international privacy and compliance teams in response to
demands from the Irish regulator, the deputy Data Protection
Commissioner told Reuters.
Recent high-profile data lapses, such as LinkedIn's security
breach that exposed millions of user passwords, have highlighted
the difficulties for web giants and regulators alike of
protecting consumer data.
Some of the world's major tech players, including Google
, have moved to set up their international or European
headquarters in business-friendly Ireland in recent years.
Facebook's Ireland office, with approximately 400 employees,
handles all its users outside the United States and Canada. The
group has over 900 million users, most of them outside of North
Facebook, the world's largest social network, agreed at the
end of December to overhaul privacy protection for users outside
North America after the Irish regulator found its policies were
overly complex and lacked transparency.
"They're beefing up their privacy functions in Ireland by
bringing in people who've taken a lead in the U.S.," Gary
Davies, Deputy Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), told Reuters.
LinkedIn, an employment and professional networking site
with more than 160 million members, said it is bulking out its
privacy team, with the appointment of a key executive at its
"We are putting additional privacy resources in Ireland and
moving one of our key directors to our International HQ in
Dublin," a spokeswoman at LinkedIn told Reuters via email.
Davies confirmed that the DPC is currently investigating the
LinkedIn security breach.
The Irish regulator will revisit Facebook's offices on July
10 to re-audit and will publish its report in September or
October, said Davies.
Facebook, whose shares slid after its recent $16 billion
IPO, said it had agreed to a six-month progress review in July.
"Facebook has cooperated with the DPC throughout the review
process and we look forward to updating them fully over the
coming weeks," a spokesman at Facebook said, declining to
comment on the enlargement of its privacy team.
Data protection laws are under review in Europe amid rapid
change in how people use the Internet and as services such as
cloud computing - allowing data to be stored on distant servers
to be accessed anywhere - become mainstream for business.
Google was scheduled to meet with France's data protection
watchdog in June to answer questions about its new user privacy
policy as part of a Europe-wide investigation being led by the
As most large U.S. tech companies have a substantial or lead
European presence in Ireland, other tech companies such as Apple
, Microsoft, and Twitter can also be expected
to be examining designating Ireland as their European data
protection regulator, said Davies.
The number of investigations opened by the Irish regulator
in 2011 was double what it had been five years previously.
LinkedIn will be subject to a routine audit over the next 12
months to check compliance with European Union data protection
law, said Davies.