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Could cost the company tens of thousands of euros

It looks like Apple isn't the only company Germany is looking to pick a bone with regarding user privacy. A German data protection official has prepared legal proceedings against social networking giant Facebook, which has had a history of privacy related problems in the past.

The data protection official, Johannes Caspar, who works in the Hamburg branch, has accused Facebook of illegally "accessing and saving personal data" of those who do not have a profile registered on the site. 

Facebook changed its privacy settings in April in order to allow any user to block access to their e-mail contacts. But for Germany, a country that has strict privacy laws that outline the kind of information and amount of information that can be accessed and by whom, this slight privacy change wasn't enough. 

Caspar has said the contacts that have been previously saved have not been erased, and are now being used for marketing-related purposes. He made it clear that this is a breach of data privacy laws and that it's important to save this information from third parties.

"It is a system that is designed around making it possible for Facebook to expand, for its own benefit," said Caspar. "Given that several million people in Germany alone are members, this is a very unsettling notion."

Caspar reported that many people have contacted his office with complaints regarding the Facebook privacy invasion. Facebook has until August 11 to formally respond to Germany's complaint. These legal allegations against Facebook could result in the company paying tens of thousands of euros. 

Ilse Aigner, Germany's consumer protection minister, has already taken a proactive stance against Facebook by opting to delete her Facebook account, saying that the company isn't doing enough to secure the privacy of its users. 

In addition to problems with Facebook, Germany has initiated an investigation that will look into Google's Street View mapping program and continues to battle with Apple over the company's tracking and collection of iPhone users' data.


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By AntiM on 7/9/2010 10:10:59 AM , Rating: 2
Facebook's usefulness is that it allows old friends and classmates to get in touch with you. You have to sacrifice some privacy for that purpose. If you don't want people to be able to find you, then why join in the first place? If you don't want certain information shared, then don't put it on there. Facebook is a free service, but they need to be able to monetize it to some degree.


"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis














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