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Facebook postpones EU launch of Facebook Dating

Screenshots from Facebook Dating

Facebook has postponed the launch of Facebook Dating in the European Union, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said in a statement. The regulator added that Facebook failed to provide it the Data Protection Impact Assessment of Facebook Dating when Facebook initially contacted the regulator about the launch. Facebook had planned to launch the service on February 13 in the region.

Companies in the EU have to conduct an impact assessment under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) before launching a product or service that could impact their customers’ personal data. This was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. We have reached out to Facebook for comment. However, Facebook said that completed impact assessment “ahead of the proposed launch in Europe, which we shared with the Irish Data Protection Commission when it was requested.”

The Commission said Facebook had first contacted it regarding the rollout of Facebook Dating on February 3 – 10 days before the intended launch date of February 13. The regulator said that it was “very concerned that this was the first that we’d [it’d] heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature”. “Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/documentation was provided to us on 3 February in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland,” it added.

The DPC had then conducted an inspection at Facebook’s office in Dublin on February 10, in order to expedite the procurement of the relevant documentation, and gathered the necessary documents. It is unclear why Facebook postponed the launch after the DPC had procured the relevant information. We have reached out to Facebook for clarification and to understand why it didn’t submit the DPIA to the regulator on February 3.

Facebook Dating is currently available in 20 countries, and was launched in the US in September 2019. It allows users to match with friends of friends and/or strangers, and suggest matches on the basis of their Facebook activity. Users can also integrate their Instagram posts into their profile on the service. Read more about it here.

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