Photo sharing and social media platform Instagram announced plans yesterday to allow its users to download all the personal data that is held by the site in lines with the new European GDPR regulations set to arrive next month. The news suggests that it will also allow users to download all their former picture uploads, videos and even messages in the first move by the company to address the increasingly potent theme of data protection in technology.
Launched in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and initially developed as a space for sharing polaroid-style pictures, the company was quickly acquired by Facebook in 2012. Under the wing of the technology giant, it was reported at the time that the platform had over 80 million users across the world. From there the platform introduced a number of new features such as the Instagram story, new photo filters and new video features – heavily rivalling Snapchat. Reportedly allowing for over 95 billion photos and videos to be shared across the world daily, the scope of the new announcement to provide users with a copy of their data is not surprising, especially in the current climate of data analysis.
The company is yet to confirm the specific date that the newly advertised ‘data portability tool’ will be available on its platform but it has been suggested by TechCrunch that it could be one of the steps to comply with GDPR launched on the 25th May. However the regulations only apply to Europe and so it also remains unclear if the platforms usability would vary depending on differing countries. This announcement comes at the same time that a number of companies begin announcing changes to their policy and securities in the run up to next months, resulting in a number of email notifications regarding what to expect. The Guardian has also explained the mounting pressure facing technology companies to disclose any former hacks and data breaches before GDPR comes into action. According to the report, the maximum fine for a breach is upped to 20 million Euros from May and will be changed based on the date of disclosure, revealing it is in the interest to reveal any security leaks earlier rather than later. The new law will also enhance user’s rights to delete or deny specific pieces of personal information and the right to view what has been stored on you.
At the same time as the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg concluded two days of questions from American Congressional committees yesterday. Although the Instagram platform has its own group of developers, sales and leadership teams, it still comes under the umbrella organisation that is overseen by Facebook. Yet although Facebook has already provided the ability to download user data, it seems like the Instagram sister site has been lagging behind on disclosing similar details. So far it is also unclear whether the new data tool will also disclose any details relating to advertising, categories or whether a form of cookies and tags are also linked to profiles. Although a step in the right direction for Instagram, the personal disclosure has the potential to reveal some interesting data collection – one can only wonder whether this would add fuel to fire.