It is often said that life events such as relationships, engagements, and marriages are not “official” until they are announced on Facebook, but does that apply to recognition as a sovereign state?
Facebook received about 8,500 requests for user data from governments of countries in the European Union during the first six months of 2013, involving some 10,000 accounts, Richard Allan, the social network’s director for public policy in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said at a hearing organized by the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, offering more details on the data released by the company in August.
The tax man cometh and, in the case of Facebook in the U.K., he leaveth empty-handed, as The Guardian reported that the social network paid no taxes in the U.K. in 2012, despite seeing its income there rise by 70 percent, and despite accounting for nearly one-half of the £6 billion ($9.66 billion) that eMarketer projects for 2013 digital ad spending in the U.K.
Student group Europe Versus Facebook has tangled with the social network before, in case you couldn’t tell by its name, filing numerous complaints related to Facebook’s privacy policies starting in 2011. Now, EVF is taking on Facebook again over its alleged role in the U.S. National Security Agency’s Prism initiative, and the group is also taking on Apple, Microsoft, Skype, and Yahoo.
When does a “spontaneous” one-day holiday to Warsaw, Poland, turn into a meeting with the country’s minister for administrative affairs and digitization? When you happen to be Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook’s good fortune in courtrooms extended overseas, as the administrative court for the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein sided with the social network and suspended the enforcement of an order that it allow users to register under pseudonyms.
Facebook’s tag suggest feature and use of facial-recognition technology is moving in different directions on opposite sides of the globe, as the social network reintroduced the feature in the U.S. last week, while at the same time deleting all facial-recognition data in Europe, where tag suggest has been disabled since last October.
Yes, we know: Facebook is free and always will be. But Eduardo Ustaran, head of the privacy and information law group at European law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, which specializes in technology and intellectual property, warns that proposed changes in European Union data-protection laws may force the hand of the social network, as well as other free, ad-supported online services, such as Gmail.
While Facebook users continue to spread false information about privacy on Facebook, officials in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are taking a very real look at recent announcements by the social network.