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German authorities come down on Facebook

Working outside of European data protection laws
Thu Mar 08 2012, 10:02

AUTHORITIES IN GERMANY have cautioned Facebook about problems with its consumer privacy protection, and warned that it is contrary to local data protection rules.

Facebook does have consumer privacy protection, it tells us that it does, but it does not have enough for German consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, (VZBV) which took it to court over its Friend Finder application.

The application, warned the VZBV, is contrary to the terms and conditions of consumer rights, a claim that has been accepted by the District Court of Berlin.

"The verdict is a milestone. Facebook and Co. have to respect the privacy protection in Europe," said VZBV chief executive Gerd Billen.

The court ruled that users should have to be clearly informed about what parts of their address books are shared with Facebook, and how it is used to create invitations for their friends, friends that may not be on the social networking site.

Also contrary to consumer rights is the use that Facebook gives itself over their user posts and pictures. Again the court upheld this.

The VZBZ said that Facebook must consider how it introduces new services, and should keep users informed about what they are and what they mean to them.

"We will look closely at Facebook's fingers, whether it will implement the decision once it is final," said Billen in a beguiling Google translated version of his comment.

Facebook told us that it is looking closely at the decision and considering its response.

"We will take a close look into the details of today's court decision as soon as they are available and then decide on the next steps," said a spokesperson.

"Facebook Ireland Ltd, which provides our service to people in Germany, is committed to adhering to European data protection principles as demonstrated by the recent report of the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner." µ


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