Facebook found to have flouted German data protection laws

Facebook found to have flouted German data protection laws

A German court has declared Facebook’s data collection policies in support of advertising to be illegal, dealing a significant blow to the social media powerhouse.

The Berlin Regional Court declared that Facebook failed to obtain the necessary consents from users to have their personal data used to attract advertisers, contravening data protection laws in Europe’s largest economy.

Facebook has been locked in a long-running legal battle with the Federation of German Consumer Organisation since 2015, when the platform was first accused of flouting consumer protection laws by turning data sharing preferences on by default.

This allowed the platform to amass a wealth of information not only from individual members use of the site but from their browsing history elsewhere on the web; including the right to use usernames and profile pictures for commercial ends, location sharing and transferring data to the US.

Heiko Dünkel, litigation policy officer for the Federation, said: "Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about this when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent."

Facebook claimed that it clearly articulated this within its terms and conditions and provided options for people to amend their privacy settings if they wished but judges decreed that a default privacy setting did not constitute consent.

Facebook’s legal woes come ahead of General Data Protection Regulations which will supersede the EU’s Data Protection Act, for which an estimated 60% of European firms remain unprepared.

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