2.14.2020 5:36 PM

Tech

Ireland's data protection agency swipes left on Facebook's dating service

The dating service was supposed to launch across Europe before Valentine's Day.

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Regulatory disputes are ruining Facebook's plans for Valentine's Day. The social network was supposed to officially introduce its much hyped-up dating service all across Europe this week but Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC), which oversees data integrity and compliance in the EU, blocked the launch.

Why, you ask? The data agency claimed in a press release Facebook, which has an office in Ireland, failed to give an adequate notice about the timeline for the launch of its dating service. More importantly, Facebook provided little to no information about privacy risks, which the DPC requires by law.

What the DPC says — According to the DPC head, Helen Dixon, Facebook Ireland contacted the agency about its launch on February 3. "We were very concerned that this was the first that we’d heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature, considering that it was their intention to roll it out tomorrow, February 13."

"Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information [or] documentation was provided to us on February 3 in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland," Dixon said.

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon.The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

What Facebook says — Facebook's official response to the agency, reported by the Irish outlet Independent.ie, sounds like it views the DPC block as a "postponement", rather than an embarrassing suspension.

"It’s really important that we get the launch of Facebook Dating right so we are taking a bit more time to make sure the product is ready for the European market," a Facebook representative told Independent.ie. "We have worked carefully to create strong privacy safeguards and have shared this information with the [Irish] DPC ahead of the European roll out."

If you've been waiting for Facebook Dating, hang in there. It sucks if you've already swiped through everyone on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, OKC, or the myriad other dating apps available. But that might be a completely different (and more serious) problem if you need another dating service.

Little love for Facebook lately — This isn't the first time that privacy concerns have thwarted one of Facebook's projects. Libra, Facebook's ambitious blockchain-based virtual currency venture, has faced similar criticism and skepticism, and big-name partners like MasterCard keep pulling out of the project.

Be it cryptocurrency or matters of the heart, Facebook's checkered history with data handling means it's likely to keep struggling to win over regulatory bodies. Given how little the company cares about the well-being of its users, though, it's hard to feel sorry for it.