German Court Rules Against Facebook In Privacy Case

A German court ruled that Facebook’s friend finder violates European privacy laws.

Friend finder encourages users to import the names and e-mail addresses of friends who have not even joined Facebook.

Gerd Billen, chairman of the consumer organization known as Verbraucherzentrale Bundesver (VZBV) that won in this ruling called it a “milestone” for forcing Facebook and others to “respect data-protection rules in Europe,” according to a report by ZDNet.

The court said that at the time VZBW initiated the complaint Facebook’s terms and conditions don’t disclose to users that the e-mail addresses imported through friend finder will be used to contact others.

The ruling also said Facebook improperly required users to grant the company licenses for the free use of all content posted on their pages and to agree to data processing for publicity.

The German court ruled that Facebook must clearly inform its users that friend finder imports their entire email address book to Facebook.

VZBV says it will continue to monitor the situation to see how Facebook modifies the friend finder service.

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that the company is taking a close look into the details of the decision.

Meanwhile, privacy adjustments to Facebook in Europe are already well underway: 12 of the 35 changes requested by the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner were to have been completed by the end of February.

This outcome resulted from a three-month audit by the Irish authorities.

Facebook has already addressed concerns over how it collects and interacts with users’ addresses by adding an unsubscribe button to emailed invitations.

This German court case is only the most recent in a string of cases where European countries have battled with Facebook over privacy issues.

Even the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement with Facebook over data privacy concerns.

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