According to The Telegraph, the Directive — which will be part of an update to current data protection laws — is scheduled for early January release. Should Facebook fail to adjust its privacy settings in compliance with the new legislation, the social network could face prosecution and/or a heavy fine.
“I call on service providers – especially social media sites – to be more transparent about how they operate,” Viviane Reding, the vice president of European Commission, told The Telegraph. “Users must know what data is collected and further processed [and] for what purposes.”
Facebook, for its part, says that it shares data anonymously and in aggregate to advertisers, and that individuals’ personal details are not at risk. (UPDATE: In a followup email, a spokesperson for Facebook also noted that Facebook users agree to receive advertising when they sign up for the service. Facebook users cannot, however, opt of targeted advertising in the same way that users can opt out of Google’s targeted ads.)
This is not the first time Facebook has been scrutinized by the European Union. In June 2009, the EU laid out privacy guidelines for social networks, and in June of this year, EU regulators began investigating Facebook’s facial recognition system.
Earlier this month, Facebook released details about how it tracks its 800 million users across the web.