Facebook ordered by Italy's data watchdog to help expose troll, hand over fake account data to alleged victim

The victim asked Facebook to send all relevant information it has on the alleged tormentor, including data and photographs Reuters

Italy's Data Protection Authority has ordered Facebook to hand over to an Italian user all the data it has on him and a troll who set up a fake account to discredit and extort him. The social media giant has also been asked to provide the details of how the alleged victim's personal data was used, who it was sent to and who might have got knowledge about it as well.

The user in question claimed that another user who befriended him on Facebook started to make demands for money. When these demands were refused, the "friend" set up a phony account using the complainant's personal information and photos and started to post and send pictures and videos from the fake account, which the victim claimed damaged his reputation.

The victim then asked Facebook to send all the relevant information it has on him, including data and photographs, according to official documents. Facebook responded by sending him an email explaining how he could download his personal data using the standard data and said it had taken steps to delete the fake account.

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The victim, however, said the response was "unsatisfactory", claiming that he could not understand the downloaded information. He also added that the response did not include any information about the alleged troll who set up the fake account either.

After taking it up with the local authorities, the Italian data watchdog agreed with him saying the personal data of both the real and bogus accounts should be sent to the victim under local law. They also asked Facebook not to destroy the phony account's data or process it further, saying it wants the data preserved for likely use in a criminal investigation by the local authorities.

The Italian watchdog's ruling falls in line with an interesting trend of national courts asserting jurisdiction over Facebook and other international tech firms. Despite Facebook's argument that it is only answerable to the privacy watchdog in Ireland, where its EU headquarters is based, the social media firm has faced a series of defeats involving the issue of jurisdiction recently.

In February, a Paris appeals court ruled that Facebook can be sued in France over its decision to suspend an account of a French user who posted a photo of a famous 19th-century nude painting. Earlier this month, the tech firm faced a privacy probe in Germany after it was pulled up by French authorities over its tracking of non-users in February. Last year, Belgium's Privacy Commission ordered Facebook to stop tracking non-users when they weren't on the website as well.

The latest case also follows two significant rulings from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Google Spain case applied the "right to be forgotten" to the tech giant while the Weltimmo case ruled that an EU company is subject to the data protection laws in which they operate, if it operates a service in the native language and has established representatives in that country.

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