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Facebook insists it has given Schrems and others in his group all of the information that is legally required. Still, Facebook insists it is allowed to hold back data that includes “a range of other things that are not personal information, including Facebook’s proprietary fraud protection measures, and ‘any other analytical procedure that Facebook runs,’” a Facebook spokesman said.

“This is clearly not personal data, and Irish data protection law rightly places some valuable and reasonable limits on the data that has to be provided,” said the spokesman, who did not give a name in keeping with company policy.

Ciara O’Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Irish commissioner, said a formal investigation has been launched into Schrems‘ complaints. In addition, a routine audit of Facebook’s Irish operation will be conducted sooner than planned, to give authorities a complete picture in weighing the requests.

“We look at the law, and whether something is in breach of that law or not, whether we need to bring an organization into compliance or not,” O’Sullivan said in a telephone interview.

Allan repeatedly stressed that Facebook’s view is that the way its service operates is completely compatible with European data protection law.

If an organization is found not to be in compliance, they receive a warning and are asked to mend their ways. If they fail to do so, they could face a fine of around euro100,000 ($140,000) _ a drop in the bucket for a company valued by Goldman Sachs at $50 billion.

Schrems, who has spent hours poring over his data and the European laws, points out that although the laws on data privacy are tough, there is little incentive for companies to follow them.

“I am not interested in money. What interests me is that the company follows the law,” Schrems said. He argued that the only way that can happen is if Facebook users take matters into their own hands.

“It only takes a click to do something about it,” he said.

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Online: http://www.europe-v-facebook.org