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Instagram: Investigated by the EU for child data protection

Instagram is under investigation by the EU, as it allegedly failed to ensure data protection of children in platform of. The alleged mishandling of Instagram data resulted in the addresses e-mail and the phone numbers of children under the age of 18, to be made visible to other users of the platform. The Facebook, who owns Instagram, has denied allegations that the platform violates privacy laws.

Application research is conducted by Irish Data Protection Committee (DPC), the main regulator of the EU based on the General Data Protection Regulation of the EU (GDPR), which entered into force in 2018.

Instagram-research-EU-child data protection

A key role of the Irish regulator is to defend an individual's right to online privacy. The DPC may impose fines on those who violate this right of users.

During the investigation, DCP will determine if Facebook has a legal basis for processing children's personal data. It will also investigate the protections and restrictions that apply to children on Instagram to see if they are adequate.
Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old to create an account. In addition, DCP is examining Facebook to check if and to what extent the company complies with the GDPR requirements for Instagram profiles and account settings. In this separate investigation, the Commission will seek to determine whether Facebook adequately safeguards the data protection rights of children as vulnerable. For its part, Facebook stressed that it fully cooperates with DCP.

Instagram-research-EU-child data protection

DPC Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle said Instagram is one SOCIAL MEDIA platform widely used by children in both Ireland and the rest Europe. He added that the DPC is actively monitoring complaints from individuals about breaches or inadequate privacy and has identified potential concerns about the processing of children's personal data on Instagram that require further investigation.

The research was completed by David Stier, a data scientist based in USA, prompted DCP to investigate Instagram. Specifically, Stier analyzed in 2019 the Profile An estimated 200.000 Instagram users worldwide, and estimated that at least 60 million users under the age of 18 were able to change their personal profiles to professional accounts. Instagram users with business accounts must display their phone numbers and email addresses to other users of the platform.

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