Germany: Facebook's conviction to collect personal data

Facebook has been sentenced by a German court for its terms of service and its default privacy settings. Of course the larger social network, immediately appealed.

In the present case, the litigation was between Facebook, and the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, or VZBV from the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband.Facebook

VZBV is reported to have a problem with the Friend Finder tool, the use of user photos in social ads, and the exchange of data between WhatsApp and Facebook.

This time, the Berlin District Court agreed with VZBV that Facebook is violating the German data protection law by collecting data from its users without providing them with the information they need to make a different choice.

The court said Facebook's default settings violated the law: the mobile app automatically collects information from users who share their site and user profiles are apparent by default on search engines.

The judges also agreed that eight of Facebook's terms and conditions did not meet the legal requirements required for users to consent because they are too complex.

These terms include prefabricated statements that allow Facebook to have the right to use the names and profile pictures of its users in its advertisements, as well as to promote the data it collects in the US.

The same is true of the Facebook term that forces service members to use their real names.

VZBV is unconvinced that these practices are not legal.

"Online service providers must allow users to use their services anonymously, for example, using a pseudonym," said VZBV policy officer Heiko Dünkel, referring to the German Telemedia Act.

The court issued its decision in mid-January, but the ruling was published on Monday.
A Facebook spokesman said the company has already changed its policies since the 2015 case began and will soon change them.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will enter into force in May of 2018, will bring much stricter privacy rules across the European Union.

Companies like Facebok should change the way they manage their personal data.

Header image Taz.

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