Facebook faces serious fines in Germany

By EDRi · July 14, 2010

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Deutsch: [Auf Facebook warten in Deutschland hohe Geldstrafen | http://www.unwatched.org/node/2065]

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information John
Caspar has launched legal proceedings against the operator of the social
network Facebook for illegally accessing and saving personal data of people
who don’t use the respective social networking site.

“We consider the saving of data from third parties, in this context, to be
against personal data laws,” said Caspar. Germany benefits of one of the
strictest privacy laws in the world that includes precise limits to the
access to personal data and has already launched an investigation on Google,
as well as in relation to its Street View mapping system.

Facebook was given until 11 August 2010 to give a formal response to the
legal complaint which may lead to its being fined tens of thousands of euro,
if the response is not acceptable.

Although Facebook has changed its privacy settings in order to allow its
users to block access to their e-mail address contacts, the Commissioner
argues that the already saved contacts have not been erased and are
used for marketing purposes. Facebook collects data also on non-members, by
using, for instance, the Facebook application for iPhones which allows the
transfer of all the contacts from the mobile phone to the social network.
This offers the option to transfer all available contacts in the mobile
phone on Facebook. Also, when somebody creates a new account on Facebook,
the system offers to search into the new member’s e-mail accounts to find
friends on the network.

Caspar stated that many citizens had recently “complained about the use of
third party data” meaning that they had been contacted by Facebook after it
had obtained their e-mail addresses from contacts of network members.

The Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner announced in June that she was
planning to give up her Facebook account considering the social network was
not doing enough to protect users’ data.

Germany takes legal steps against Facebook (6.07.2010)

Hamburg data protection commissioner initiated penalty proceedings against
Facebook (7.07.2010)

Penalty proceedings against Facebook for storing the data of others (only in
German, 7.07.2010)