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Germany Takes Legal Steps Against Facebook

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the verboten-knowledge dept.

Privacy 138

crimeandpunishment writes "Not only are Germany and Facebook not friends, they might end up opponents in a courtroom. Germany has begun legal action over privacy. A German data protection official accuses Facebook of illegally saving personal data of people who don't use the site and haven't given permission to access their private information. Germany, which has also launched an investigation into Google over its Street View mapping program, has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world."

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first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32836928)

eat it bitches

Re:first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32836956)

delicio.us

From TFA (3, Informative)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | about 4 years ago | (#32836944)

"Kohannes Caspar said his Hamburg data protection office had initiated legal steps that could result in Facebook being fined tens of thousands of euros for saving private information of individuals who don't use the site and haven't granted it access to their details."

I bet this is less than their monthly coffee expenses.

Re:From TFA (1)

zebslash (1107957) | about 4 years ago | (#32836966)

Multiplied by the number of users, it may be a big sum. I don't know if Germany has class-action laws though.

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837000)

Nope. Doesn't exist.

Re:From TFA (2, Informative)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 years ago | (#32837128)

Nope. No class actions over here.

Also it's a fine, no damage, so it'll be payable only once.

Only if they stop (3, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | about 4 years ago | (#32837520)

If they continue breaking privacy law, the fine will continue, and increase.

Re:Only if they stop (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | about 4 years ago | (#32838248)

What gives Germany jurisdiction, anyway? Could FaceBook just move a few of their servers?

Re:Only if they stop (3, Insightful)

MeNeXT (200840) | about 4 years ago | (#32838854)

What gives Germany jurisdiction, anyway? Could FaceBook just move a few of their servers?

Holding information on it's citizens, that's what gives Germany jurisdiction.

Re:Only if they stop (2, Insightful)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | about 4 years ago | (#32839288)

Holding information on it's citizens, that's what gives Germany jurisdiction.

That's why Germany cares. It doesn't give FaceBook a reason to care what Germany thinks.

Re:Only if they stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32839450)

So if I, being in Canada, go and dig up some private info on Hans Biederbachenburg and store it on my computer, also in Canada... Germany can now claim jurisdiction over my stuff???

Re:Only if they stop (2, Interesting)

ivucica (1001089) | about 4 years ago | (#32839316)

I'll blow my mod points for this: Facebook is permitted not to pay, but Germany is also permitted to ... let's say it like this, not expose its citizens to dangers of Facebook. If they broke the law in Germany, their services can be expelled from Germany, with easiest thing already disconnecting millions of users in Germany from Facebook: "Hey, mr. DNS Person from the ISP, please point www.facebook.com to this IP... kthxbye"

Re:From TFA (4, Insightful)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about 4 years ago | (#32836982)

Not when it is per individual.

It's kind of weird that Germany and Europe are now the safeguards of our privacy. On the other hand, they understand the reasons for that because of history. It seems like every other country in the world let big corporations like Google and Facebook do whatever they want.

Re:From TFA (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837026)

Not when it is per individual.

It's kind of weird that Germany and Europe are now the safeguards of our privacy. On the other hand, they understand the reasons for that because of history. It seems like every other country in the world let big corporations like Google and Facebook do whatever they want.

You are right...except that it wasn't the corporations that destroyed Europe twice in a century. These laws protect the privacy of individuals from corporations and other individuals, but they do nothing to protect the privacy of the individual from the government (the real problem). These laws will do nothing if nationalism surges in Europe again.

Re:From TFA (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#32837224)

they do nothing to protect the privacy of the individual from the government

Really? In the UK, at least, the government is bound by the data protection act and government departments must disclose, for a small nominal fee, any information that they hold on you. They can also be required to delete it in some circumstances. Given that this act is an implementation of European legislation, I'd be surprised if this isn't the case in most of the EU.

Re:From TFA (3, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 years ago | (#32837816)

They can also be required to delete it in some circumstances.

Unless they're the police. [bbc.co.uk]

Re:From TFA (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | about 4 years ago | (#32839700)

Please don't use the UK as an example of European privacy protection, it's up there with the US in being retarded.

The northern part of continental europe is a better model of good privacy protection.

Re:From TFA (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | about 4 years ago | (#32837398)

You are right...except that it wasn't the corporations that destroyed Europe twice in a century.

But they were standing in the queue to help as much as can.
Poverty is what causes the dangerous variant of nationalism and bailing out banks and corporations is a part of what causes this poverty.

You need laws to even out the balance between citizens and corporations even if we know that corporations don't care about them, without laws you are not able to retroactively "get them" when they fucked up on purpose like Facebook is doing.

Re:From TFA (3, Insightful)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | about 4 years ago | (#32837600)

The corporations bankrolled both world wars and the rise of fascism.

Re:From TFA (3, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 years ago | (#32837758)

At least according to our history textbooks, the increasing poverty after the great depression, the very failure of corporations, was a big factor in the rise of fascism. Lots of poor people willing to support anyone for empty promises.

Look at how Saddam or AlQuaida buy the support of the local population by building a few schools and hospitals. If you have the chance to get your kids pneumonia treated in a hospital, you probably wouldn't care much about civil liberties.

Re:From TFA (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | about 4 years ago | (#32837856)

Yeah, that's mostly true, but the junker class including a lot of industrialists did put a lot of weight behind them in Germany, thinking the nazis could be easily manipulated... The only thing that saved Schacht from the rope was his being such a complete moron (and if anything proved that it was his attempts at intriguing to get the nazis in power so he could keep them on a short leash for the junker cause... yeah).

Re:From TFA (1)

Terribliz (778925) | about 4 years ago | (#32838100)

Except that much the poverty came from the hyperinflation [wikipedia.org] of the Weimar Republic, caused by the government and the governments that inflicted the Treaty of Versailles upon Germany.

Re:From TFA (1)

jefu (53450) | about 4 years ago | (#32839626)

The hyperinflation certainly pushed things along, but I suspect that it helps to look at things as being a long war starting essentially with Napoleon, with smaller and larger shooting wars more or less interrupting a long period of arms building, Germany was falling apart by the end of the the first world war and the Versailles treaty didn't help, but I find it hard to see it as being the the most important factor. But I'm not a historian by any means, just someone who finds that flow of events interesting.

Re:From TFA (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#32838234)

At least according to our history textbooks, the increasing poverty after the great depression, the very failure of corporations, was a big factor in the rise of fascism. Lots of poor people willing to support anyone for empty promises.

I view it somewhat differently. The failure was dependence on the corporatism model. When a corporation breaks up the assets are divided between the creditors. When a co-op breaks up the assets are divided between the employees. Working for a corporation is a poor way to plan for your future.

Look at how Saddam or AlQuaida buy the support of the local population by building a few schools and hospitals. If you have the chance to get your kids pneumonia treated in a hospital, you probably wouldn't care much about civil liberties.

Just another reason why national health is important, of course. People who will go to work for BP because they're trying to support their family with medical care and whatnot.

Re:From TFA (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | about 4 years ago | (#32838448)

1. Basically, privacy laws apply to the state as well. Unfortunately priorities are at "our" war against terrorism, so "security" beats civil rights - just as everywhere else in the world. 2. You might want to have a deeper look into literature about the first world war. "Geopolitical interests" and "access to key ressources" translates as "the companies" to me. By the way, the wealthiest families in Germany still are Krupp, Flick and Thyssen - and just guess who built the punchcard machines to sort out jews, handicapped persons and "communists" from the rest of the population... Of course there were political dumbasses like Bismarck and criminals like Hitler and his gang but without the goodwill of the capital they would not have come that far.

Re:From TFA (4, Insightful)

xtracto (837672) | about 4 years ago | (#32837248)

No, they are the safeguards of OUR privacy. If you live in a degenerate country and your government care more about corporations than taxpayers, then you are screwed (you are welcomed to move to Europe... that is what I did :))

Re:From TFA (3, Interesting)

zoney_ie (740061) | about 4 years ago | (#32837402)

Going to be a lot if it is for each (individual) infringement. I imagine Facebook saves the email address, name, and sets up some kind of invisible profile with "guessed" friends etc. for each non-member that someone on facebook sends a join request to. That's a lot of people. Also it may even apply to those who later joined (a *LOT* more people).

I am not on facebook and regularly get their creepy emails that say "Hello 'Real Name', 'A Friend' wants you to join" and "You may know these people on Facebook: ".

It cannot come soon enough if they are prosecuted in Germany and I am reasonably sure what they are doing is illegal in other European countries, if not further afield also.

Re:From TFA (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | about 4 years ago | (#32838550)

I am not on facebook and regularly get their creepy emails that say "Hello 'Real Name', 'A Friend' wants you to join" and "You may know these people on Facebook: ".

It is probably people you know that are causing those emails to be sent. You can try to add friends by email address. Doing so causes an email to be sent out to you to try and get you to sign up.

The fact that you receive multiples means one of two things - 1. Facebook doesn't store your email address and therefore doesn't know that somebody else has already tried to add you or 2. They do store your email address and don't care.

I'd probably guess 2.

Either way, Facebook in doing this is acting in some respects as a webmail client. Another user (one who holds an account) searches for you on Facebook by email. You are not found. They are given the option to send you an email to ask you to join Facebook.

Re:From TFA (1)

zoney_ie (740061) | about 4 years ago | (#32838800)

I think you are missing the point about the "you may know" thing in the email. This includes people I know who are in no way connected to the person who is trying to get me to sign up to facebook (indeed some of the suggestions are also not acquainted or connected - as I said, disparate social groups for which I am the common link).

The multiple emails are often reminders, and each has a different selection of people I "may know" on facebook. So far no false positives by facebook.

Re:From TFA (1)

zigurat667 (1380959) | about 4 years ago | (#32837756)

violation of privacy is only considered as a regulatory offense in germany, maximum fine is 50.000€.

Re:From TFA (1)

nashv (1479253) | about 4 years ago | (#32839572)

The point isn't to leech money off Facebook, but to create legal precedent to make them and others stop their data hoarding and improve privacy norms.

strictest data privacy law (3, Funny)

kubitus (927806) | about 4 years ago | (#32836948)

rightly so!

-

and the Chaos Computer Club - and now also the Pirate Party.

and a constitutional court rejecting data-storage laws.

-

if you are not paranoid these days - then you are insane!

Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32836980)

Some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, and for a reason. We've had a couple major incidents where ISPs (cough, Telekom) sold customer addresses, phone and mobile numbers to third parties for advertising, for example. I'm glad they're taking this seriously and hope that remark was meant as a praise.

Re:Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837024)

Not being a troll here but I've read discussions between Germans where they say the reason privacy laws are above average were because certain politicians and business people wanted to keep their history about various 'associations' with certain a historical 'organisation' secret. Is their any real basis for that line of thinking?

Re:Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (3, Interesting)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 years ago | (#32837222)

for a good measure of it, probably yes.

OTOH, the allies were resonable enough to turn a a large enough blind eye to all the small fish. Prosecuting each and every "nazi" would have been a bit out of proportion, as almost everyone was forced into the military, or the party or some party organization. "Von der Wiege bis zur Bahre". It was a goal to get everyone into those organizations. So if they had try to lock up each party "member", 80% of the population would have ended up in prison.

And the other half of those privacy concerns comes from the exact opposite: The fear of the possibility of having a group singled out again, based on some stored data.

But we were too concerned with beeing afraid of state-run data-mining, that we didn't notice the big companies doing it already. Only over the last few years (GP mentione the Telekom affair) this is swinging back.

Re: Prosecuting each and every... (2, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 4 years ago | (#32838662)

PseudoQuote: "Unfortunately, the RIAA's Allies were not reasonable enough to turn a blind eye to all the small fish and tried to prosecute each and every copyright infringer, despite being out of proportion. It was a goal to get everyone."

(Can I claim the copyright on Reverse-Godwin, the art of taking threads about Nazis and steering them into MAFIAA discussions?)

Re:Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (2, Informative)

Torvac (691504) | about 4 years ago | (#32837698)

not only that, the german registry offices are still allowed to sell your informations and they do. to banks, insurance companies, religious institutions , the gez (gestapo like org. collecting money for tv stations) etc.

Re:Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | about 4 years ago | (#32838684)

Not really. Mentioned "conservative" parties generally don't give a fuck about privacy laws. They would just sue you if you called them Nazis. Even if they obviously were.

Re:Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 years ago | (#32837146)

a few thousand euros is FAR from any serious fine for something as large as facebook.

Re:Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (2, Insightful)

helix2301 (1105613) | about 4 years ago | (#32837472)

I agree the fine is small but I have a feeling this is going to be a bigger and bigger problem for Facebook as they branch out and expand across the globe. This is not the first time Facebook has been sued or fined over privacy issues.

Re:Strictest Privacy Laws (TM) (3, Interesting)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 4 years ago | (#32838122)

It's a shot across the bow...in a "comply or else" sense.

You start off with 10k, and in case of non-compliance you make it 100k, and then 1M. At some point someone will figure out the formula and reckon that the next one might actually hurt.

the War on Privacy continues.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32836994)

Yeah... and Facebook recently inked a big money deal with Activision-Blizzard, and now the latter has pushed out RealID into WoW, and they just announced that for SC2, and in a few months also for WoW, all forum posts in the official forums are going to have players' real names (first and last name) attached to them. [worldofwarcraft.com] That thread has over 35,000 posts in it already in it from irate WoW players, many of them (including myself) have already cancelled their accounts.

Oh, but Blizzard's own forum moderators won't have THEIR names revealed, because they "cannot risk having their personal lives compromised by in-game issues". [wow.com] But they have no problem selling out their own customers.

Its been a long time since I saw such a dickwad move by an MMO company. This rivals Star Wars Galaxies NGE in terms of betrayal of the player-base by Blizzard.

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (2, Insightful)

Corbets (169101) | about 4 years ago | (#32837012)

Its been a long time since I saw such a dickwad move by an MMO company. This rivals Star Wars Galaxies NGE in terms of betrayal of the player-base by Blizzard.

On the plus side, it's likely to result in fewer "dick-waddings" in forum posts. ;)

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (0, Troll)

Dumnezeu (1673634) | about 4 years ago | (#32837034)

That's too bad... and I really wanted to get a Blizzard account just for Starcraft. Pirated SC2 game from torrents, here I come!

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (2, Interesting)

prionic6 (858109) | about 4 years ago | (#32837064)

I don't understand the reasoning here... If you pirate it, you can't post on the Blizzard forums anyway. If you buy the game, you can, but only with your real name. So just don't use their forum system...

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837098)

That's the worst excuse to pirate a game ever. The pirated version won't allow you to play online (on battle.net) OR post in the forums. If you buy the game you will be able to play online without posting in the forums and your privacy will be (somewhat) safe. The only time your real name would be revealed is if you actually post something on the forums which is not required to play the game.

Granted I still think it's a stupid move but it's no excuse for pirating.

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#32837236)

If you disagree with a company's policies, it's a good reason not to buy their product. Deciding to pirate it, on the other hand, shows just how little your principles are worth to you - less than the entertainment afforded by a computer game, apparently.

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837324)

Don't be stupid. If he weren't able to justify his piracy because of forum privacy issues, he'd have to rely on such excuses as DRM, cost, or how bad the game is.

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#32839314)

But how to play the game in Battle.net, if they force you to reveal your real name???? So, you will end up with a legal copy of SC2, and you would not be able to to play 80% of the game! Kind of, you could post in slashdot, but only if you say "God Bless SlashDot" every second sentence.....or leave the site. How that sounds?

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (0, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#32838322)

If you disagree with a company's policies, it's a good reason not to buy their product. Deciding to pirate it, on the other hand, shows just how little your principles are worth to you

Logical fallacy. Deciding to pirate it shows how little someone else's principles are worth. Your comment would only make sense if he invented copyright law, which he didn't. Knee jerk, much? In fact you're bordering on Ad Hominem.

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (1)

StormReaver (59959) | about 4 years ago | (#32837654)

Its been a long time since I saw such a dickwad move by an MMO company.

Blizzard became a dickwad company the moment they filed suit against the bnetd developers. That was the point that Blizzard's true colors should have been blindingly obvious to everyone.

Re:the War on Privacy continues.. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 4 years ago | (#32837734)

Aren't they listed as staff somewhere on the site?

If a guy named Swordslasher is tagged as "Game Community Manager" and their corporate site lists "Jim Smith" as the Game Community Manager...

dardenschutz! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837014)

strikes again

Considering the data-collection craze... (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 years ago | (#32837020)

When you think how eager the German government is to collect, filter, file and dissect data passing through the internet pipes, the whole deal feels a bit hollow and like a publicity stunt more than actual concern of their citizens private information. I'd prefer Google and Facebook doing it. I can still NOT give them my data if I so please. It's a bit harder with a Government that badgers ISPs to install sniffing bridges for something not much different from a (warrantless) wire tapping.

Or they just want to eliminate any competition in the field of selling German people's private data, dunno...

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837086)

The situation is naturally a bit more sophisticated. Basically the above mentioned "officials" are elected to act independently and question corporate and governmental practices.

Unfortunately their options regarding control of the government are pretty limited. Mostly press statements and the like. Corporations on the other hand can be sued. And it's good that they do both (the criticizing an the suing)!

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837122)

A government is not one body. Quite a few people are involved and just because some want to collect information it doesn't mean that Germany doesn't care about privacy.

"illegally saving personal data of people who don't use the site and haven't given permission to access their private information"
No, you can NOT not give them your data apparently.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (2, Informative)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | about 4 years ago | (#32838154)

It's about other people giving them your data.

As far as I understood from the article, the main thing was about emails taken from previous contact attempts (address books) and used for spamming.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (4, Informative)

robot marvin (1699358) | about 4 years ago | (#32837158)

the last email from facebook I received had following footer " This message was intended for z.yx@xyz.xz. If you do not wish to receive this type of email from Facebook in the future, please click here to unsubscribe. Facebook, Inc. P.O. Box 10005, Palo Alto, CA 94303 " I do not have an account but I can unsubscribe to NOT receive such emails ! where is the choice - there is no choice they just store data from people who never or have not anymore an account with them. sorry they are not to be trusted and any legal action which tries to rectify things is more then appreciated.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (1)

TheEyes (1686556) | about 4 years ago | (#32838044)

For such emails, the best practice is to just ignore the emails; eventually the spammer will believe your account is inactive and stop emailing you.

One of the worst things you can do is hit the "Unsubscribe" button, because it means they now know your account is being monitored, and can sell it to an even worse spammer, continuing the downward spiral.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (2, Insightful)

S.O.B. (136083) | about 4 years ago | (#32837218)

When you think how eager the German government is to collect, filter, file and dissect data passing through the internet pipes, the whole deal feels a bit hollow

Citation please.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (3, Informative)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 years ago | (#32837286)

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/03/02/1254212/German-Data-Retention-Law-Ruled-Unconstitutional?from=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot+(Slashdot)&utm_content=Google+Reader [slashdot.org]

Yes, it has been stopped, for now. But not by the gouvernment but by the constitutional court. Politics already trying to modify it just enough to be not in violation of the constitution.

more of that story would be available in german.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (0)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about 4 years ago | (#32837246)

I'd prefer Google and Facebook doing it. I can still NOT give them my data if I so please.

The summary says Facebook gathers data from non-users. However they do that is immaterial. It remains that allegedly Facebook gathers private information from 3rd parties.

There's a double moral in Germany. Crimes are punishable unless they're committed by the state. The good old Peer Steinbrück was prepared to pay millions for stolen information in order to collect a fraction more taxes.

OT: Germany's financial wizard also didn't get that by being tougher on tax dodgers, a significant amount of the intelligentsia will consider leaving Germany. I know, I live in Switzerland. Anyway, the sad and sorry idiot left office.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (1)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | about 4 years ago | (#32837772)

OT: Germany's financial wizard also didn't get that by being tougher on tax dodgers, a significant amount of the intelligentsia will consider leaving Germany.

I don't consider people to be "intelligent", if they don't realize that contributing to the society is necessary, especially if they're the "strong one's". It's not like most people moving to Switzerland to evade German taxes would starve otherwise, if they stayed here. Granted, you might not be able to afford that Mercedes Benz or Porsche, but getting you from A to B is something your Audi accomplishes more than good enough.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (2, Insightful)

TheEyes (1686556) | about 4 years ago | (#32838076)

Besides, if tax dodgers respond to crackdowns by leaving the country, well, good riddance. One way to get rid of a leech is to get rid of them, so at least they're not siphoning state resources away from everyone else. Let them leech off another government instead, if they can (let's see you get better services from a bankrupt government like Greece, where large portions of the populace refuse to pay taxes).

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (1, Informative)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about 4 years ago | (#32840224)

OT: Germany's financial wizard also didn't get that by being tougher on tax dodgers, a significant amount of the intelligentsia will consider leaving Germany.

I don't consider people to be "intelligent", if they don't realize that contributing to the society is necessary, especially if they're the "strong one's". It's not like most people moving to Switzerland to evade German taxes would starve otherwise, if they stayed here. Granted, you might not be able to afford that Mercedes Benz or Porsche, but getting you from A to B is something your Audi accomplishes more than good enough.

Are you a student? Or perhaps early in your business career? In that case, one day you will realise that you yourself are the best judge of how the money you earned is best spent. Why should you surrender over 50% of your income to a faceless state?

Take Switzerland as an example. Similar left/right wing situation as in most other countries. However, people pay less tax, have more responsibilities and choose themselves to pay for services. There is no such thing as poverty and even the most anti social people are supported both financially and, more importantly, in learning how to become self-sufficient.

In most society there usually is a silent agreement between the state and the intelligent/smart/fortunate ones in order to allow the latter to indulge themselves. IMHO "Peitschen" Peer showed arrogant disregard which didn't do Germany any favours. Naive and full of himself.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#32837260)

The fact that the government does something wrong does not make it right for companies to do it. The excuse "But he did it first" is pretty much kindergarten-policy to me.

So I do like what that government is doing against Google and Facebook and I don't like what it does itself. I am not rooting for or against companies/governments. I root for privacy.

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32838422)

Are you serious?
Let me explain the difference between a business and a government in the simplest way possible:

1. A government is an organization that is there to serve the people. When it is all said and done, a government is judged upon how well it has served the people.

2. A business is an organization that is there to acquire money. When it is all said and done, a business is judged upon how much money it has acquired.

Which one do you trust?

Re:Considering the data-collection craze... (1)

Original Replica (908688) | about 4 years ago | (#32839100)

A government is an organization that is there to serve the people. When it is all said and done, a government is judged upon how well it has served the people.

That is the line sold to the people, but it's wrong. A government is an organization to consolidate and maintain power. Look at ancient Rome, it had millions of slaves, it had near constant wars, it had public torture and execution. But we regard it historically as a great civilization.

Germany (2, Interesting)

pinky99 (741036) | about 4 years ago | (#32837042)

I find it funny: This is the a case of the data protection office of Hamburg, a city/federal state in Germany, not Germany. If a city in the US is preparing a case, would the title also be "US takes legal steps"?

Re:Germany (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 years ago | (#32837262)

The acting data protection official from Hamburg may be speaking for germany here. Facebooks (and Googles) german office is in Hamburg, and data protection laws are a state (and not a federal) matter. (The cities of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen are states on their own)

So this guy might be the only one actually having a case against Facebook.

good! (4, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | about 4 years ago | (#32837052)

It really strikes me as odd that such generic information as for example Facebook and Twitter are storing is kept by private companies. I mean, imagine that e-mail had been invented by Twitter, then all e-mail addresses would have been ending in "@twitter.com" and we would all rely on a private company that would have had insight into all our communications. How long would it have taken us to conclude that such a situation is absurd? Five years? Ten years? Forever?

Of course, someone should be running the servers, but a federated approach would be much better.

Although probably nobody at the upper layers of the German government realizes this, these legal steps of Germany at least raise attention on the importance of privacy.

Re:good! (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#32837278)

Maybe you should look a bit more at the history of email. That's exactly the same situation that we had up until the early '90s. There were lots of bulletin board systems (BBSs) and online service providers (OSPs) that you could dial into with a modem. You'd send emails to other users of the same service by uploading it to their servers and having someone else dial in and collect it later. Very few of these were federated, so you'd have a lot of different email addresses. A few BBSs used something like UUCP for dialing in to each other and forwarding emails, but it was by no means universal.

Then people started connecting to the Internet, and a lot of OSPs (e.g. AOL and Compuserve) tried to become ISPs as well, maintaining their walled garden and also giving access to the Internet. To make things more attractive to their customers, they allowed their internal email addresses to function as Internet email addresses too. You could use 12345 to send a Compuserve email to CompuServe user 12345, but 12345@compuserve.com also worked as an Internet email address.

Over time, people stopped bothering with the purely internal email addresses. We've seen this happen with postal mail, with telephones, with email, and with IM, but now people once again buying in to the walled garden approach for social networking. There's a saying or something about people not studying history...

Re:good! (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | about 4 years ago | (#32837922)

There's a saying or something about people not studying history...

I don't know the saying you refer to, but I'm sure it only applies to historians.

Re:good! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#32839294)

Over time, people stopped bothering with the purely internal email addresses. We've seen this happen with postal mail, with telephones, with email, and with IM, but now people once again buying in to the walled garden approach for social networking. There's a saying or something about people not studying history...

Uh, yeah, those people didn't create Facebook and profit immensely from building a walled-garden that traps people in and secures the first-mover advantage.

Obviously, you have not learned all the lessons of history.

Not so good after all... (1)

sparrowhead (1795632) | about 4 years ago | (#32837356)

The fee is being issued for storing information of people who are not customers of facebook.

This is probably the last we will all hear of this case, because the court applied German law. Facebook is US based, so if taken to court in Germany they'd have to apply US law. As a result of this Facebook can ignore the court's decision and nothing will ever happen. If i was in Facebook's position, i'd just appeal against the initial decision. The appelate court will most likely dismiss the case entirely.

Although probably nobody at the upper layers of the German government realizes this, these legal steps of Germany at least raise attention on the importance of privacy.

Actually the whole thing was started by the German minister of Consumer Protection Ilse Aigner [wikipedia.org] . Her quotes upon quitting her own facebook account do reveal [pcmag.com] how competent she is...

I guess someone at the court got under severe political pressure

Re:Not so good after all... (1)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | about 4 years ago | (#32837854)

Facebook is US based, so if taken to court in Germany they'd have to apply US law. [...]

According to the impressum for Facebook.de [facebook.com] , the relevant division for this case is based in Ireland:

Die Webseiten unter www.facebook.de und die auf diesen Seiten vorgehaltenen Dienste werden dir angeboten von:

Facebook Ireland Limited

Hanover Reach, 5-7 Hanover Quay, Dublin 2 Ireland

http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=impressum_contact

Vorstand: Marc Andreesen, Jim Breyer, Donald Graham, Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook, Inc. ist eine nach dem Recht von Dublin, Irland gegründete und registrierte Gesellschaft. Registernummer: 462932.

Re:Not so good after all... (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about 4 years ago | (#32837900)

The fee is being issued for storing information of people who are not customers of facebook.

This is probably the last we will all hear of this case, because the court applied German law. Facebook is US based, so if taken to court in Germany they'd have to apply US law. As a result of this Facebook can ignore the court's decision and nothing will ever happen. If i was in Facebook's position, i'd just appeal against the initial decision. The appelate court will most likely dismiss the case entirely.

I don't think that's true. If a crime was committed against a German citizen who was not connected with Facebook, how would German law not apply?

Re:Not so good after all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32838886)

I don't think legal jurisdiction is a question of the location of the target of the crime.

For example, if I were to set up a porn site in the United States, I would probably be in violation of some country out there where porn is illegal.

Now, could that web site then be found in court to be violating those laws? Sure. They could also find that the moon is made of cheese. Would anything happen? Not likely.

Re:good! (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#32837608)

I mean, imagine that e-mail had been invented by Twitter, then all e-mail addresses would have been ending in "@twitter.com" and we would all rely on a private company that would have had insight into all our communications. How long would it have taken us to conclude that such a situation is absurd? Five years? Ten years? Forever?

That depends on who you mean by "us." There was once a time where email was confined to a single computer system; people realized that it would be nice to exchange email messages with users of other systems, and so they devised ways to get their computers to interoperate. These days, though, things are very different: Twitter and Facebook do not exist for the purpose of serving their users, they exist to turn ever higher profits, and interoperability would be detrimental to that. The user mindset is also different; instead of asking, "Why can't Facebook interoperate with Myspace?" they instead think, "I have friends who are not Facebook users, I will encourage them to join."

Internet going down the drain (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 4 years ago | (#32839744)

The user mindset is also different; instead of asking, "Why can't Facebook interoperate with Myspace?" they instead think, "I have friends who are not Facebook users, I will encourage them to join."

Yup, that's the worst part of the whole "Net 2.0 revolution" : Most of the revolutionary things are proprietary and not intercommunicating.

By chance, that's not the situations everywhere :

- for all the privacy problems for which it has been criticized, Google has still the advantage of being openly in favour of intercommunication, even actively encouraging it [dataliberation.org] by using open standards when possible and opening their APIs.

- Jimmy Whales might have a lot of short-comings, but the ecosystem of wikis is still distributed : wikipedia acts as a central hub. But you go to memory-alpha or wookiepedia depending on if you're a Star Trek or Star Wars fan. And seek lulz on unencyclopedia and encyclopedia dramatica.

Re:good! (1)

disi (1465053) | about 4 years ago | (#32839234)

Only the government is allowed to filter traffic, save ip addresses, listen to your phone calls...

I mean read your emails...

oh no, I mean save the email address :)

Germany SWIFT banking data (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837110)

Germany should take SWIFT to court over the handing over of banking data. I know you think that this is old history, but it isn't. TODAY the EU Parliament will vote in favour of letting the USA have full access to SWIFT's bank data under the guise of anti-terrorism.

The only safeguard is a 'supervisor' from the EU.

But what the EU Parliament is doing is not legal, they cannot overrule national bank privacy laws, and thus cannot prevent Germany taking SWIFT to court over handing German data over to the US. Likewise in some places it is a criminal offense to hand over that data, and those countries can seek arrest of SWIFT, even if EU says they're fine with it.

Of course the USA rejected calls for Europe to see US bank data, and SWIFT continues to claim it is too big a task to filter their 15 million transactions a day.... right..... only 15 million transactions a day is too big an amount of data to filter...

Time to Move? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837124)

As bad as it is getting in the rest of the world, is it time to move to Germany??

Football (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837178)

They're just sore because they lost the football.

Sieg Heil Unter Gleben Glauben Globen (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837202)

Gotta hand it to them, always pushing the unwashed toward that shower down there, the one with the smoke coming out from the chimney.

YUO FAIl IT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837258)

Admirable privacy laws (3, Informative)

anorlunda (311253) | about 4 years ago | (#32837264)

I lived in Sweden in the 80s. Sweden's privacy laws are a bit like Germany's.

The most important thing they did was to require any computer owner to get a license from the government to store personal data. To get the license, they had to lay out what data and what the reasons were for storing it.

Effectively, the law prohibited all personal data applications (and storage) except those that are permitted. In the USA, everything is permitted except that which is prohibited.

I think they finally backed off enough to allow PC owners to keep an address book for personal use without a license, but it was still very strict.

In reality, I would probably hate it if the US government tried the same law. It is so inept that the waiting time for licenses would be years and would require the aid of expensive lawyers. Still, I admire what Sweden was able to accomplish. The giant corporation that I worked for over there thought long and hard before putting customer data in a database.

Re:Admirable privacy laws (1)

Geeky (90998) | about 4 years ago | (#32837380)

That's fairly crazy to me. If it's legal to keep and store data in paper records without a license, I see no reason why a computer should be treated differently - it's just a more efficient way of doing the same thing.

The restrictions should come in when you try to sell that data on - and again, should equally apply to data in any format. I should no more be able to sell my paper address book to an advertising firm than my electronic copy (not that my address book has anyone in it, but you get the idea...)

Re:Admirable privacy laws (3, Insightful)

Dr. Hok (702268) | about 4 years ago | (#32837560)

That's fairly crazy to me. If it's legal to keep and store data in paper records without a license, I see no reason why a computer should be treated differently - it's just a more efficient way of doing the same thing.

There is a big difference. You said it yourself: Efficiency is the answer. As an example, consider a criminal who looks for potential victims to blackmail. Let's say he has access to huge unrelated data sets about people who work in high government positions or have access to lots of money, who have an alcohol problem, or a money problem, or little children, or a police record of certain nasty habits.

It would take forever to correlate these data sets if they were on paper. OTOH, in a computer DB it'd take you a few lines of SQL and a few seconds to find your victims. Of course, this example is totally made up, but you might be able to map it to a more realistic scenario.

Re:Admirable privacy laws (3, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | about 4 years ago | (#32838300)

That's fairly crazy to me. If it's legal to keep and store data in paper records without a license

It isn't in the UK -- the laws apply equally to both paper and electronic records. "Data" as covered by the Data Protection Act includes "information which is being processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose," (i.e. a computer), and "any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that, although the information is not processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, the set is structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible". See here [ico.gov.uk]

I don't know about Sweden, but in the UK there are specific exemptions for individuals holding personal data like an address book.
"The most comprehensive exemption applies when personal data is processed by a data controller who is an individual (not an organisation) only for the purposes of their personal, family or household affairs.

Example
An individual keeps a database of their friends’ and relatives’ names, addresses and dates of birth on their PC. They use the database for keeping track of birthdays and to produce address labels for Christmas cards. The domestic purposes exemption applies to this type of processing.

Example
An individual records the highlights of their summer holiday on a digital camcorder. The recording includes images of people they meet on holiday. Although those digital images are personal data, the domestic purposes exemption applies.

None of the data protection principles apply in these circumstances, nor do any of the rights which the Act gives to data subjects. There is also no need to notify the ICO about processing for these purposes.

So there is an almost total exemption from the Data Protection Act for individuals who just use personal data for their own domestic and recreational purposes. However, the Act still applies to the extent that the ICO may investigate if someone seems to have gone beyond the scope of the exemption, and we may take enforcement action where necessary."

Related news (5, Informative)

gencha (1020671) | about 4 years ago | (#32837358)

What I find the most fascinating about this, is that Facebook read the address book out of people's iPhone to find new friends for them online. And the collected data is permanently stored. German article: http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/0,1518,697733,00.html [spiegel.de] I don't know if this is the issue described in TFA as the site seems slashdotted.

Re:Related news (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#32838492)

What I find the most fascinating about this, is that Facebook read the address book out of people's iPhone to find new friends for them online. And the collected data is permanently stored

Facebook will do the same with gmail, but presumably will not read either without your permission. What I find most fascinating is that the german website you sent us to attempts to set three cookies on my PC. Why does it need three? I haven't identified myself to the website, why does it need any?

I would read your article but google translate cannot translate it. Please post an english article, as this is an english-speaking site, or post a translation. I wouldn't post a bunch of links to english papers on Krautdot.

Come on, Germany.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32837418)

If there's one way to cause a backlash, that's it! Crazy idea. I'm sad that the country that produced DubLi would have such a nonsensical idea.

I get spam from both Facebook and Twitter (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about 4 years ago | (#32837954)

though I have never used either service. This tells me enough about both companies that I will never use either.

Re:I get spam from both Facebook and Twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32838472)

So do I, but they are usually phishing emails sent from scammers.

Too many fucking idiots in the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32838382)

Look, the whole purpose of facebook is to be social. To put yourself out there. There shouldn't be an expectation of privacy. Anyone who thinks there should be is a fucking idiot. Period.

If you don't like it, don't use it.

People bitch and moan about things not being transparent. They want government to be transparent. They want every fucking company decision to be transparent, but then they whine when they have to be.

Stupid fucks.

Re:Too many fucking idiots in the world (1)

meatron (1718302) | about 4 years ago | (#32840070)

how about reading the article before posting. It is not about people who are on facebook, it is about non-members and the information fb is storing about them.

Zuckerberg is the new Gates (1)

assertation (1255714) | about 4 years ago | (#32838538)

What do I say about Germany going after Facebook? About time someone did!

IBM used to be all that and then became just another company. Now I can say the same for Microsoft. Nobody cares about Gates or Ballmer anymore, but they LOVE seeing Zuckerberg getting it. Zuckerberg is the new Gates, the new IT sector villain people love to hate.

IF you outlaw information (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 4 years ago | (#32840764)

only outlaws will have information. They say they are protecting the public. This is only setting precedence to protect the state further down the road. We are responsible for protecting ourselves. If you want to keep it private, don't be giving out things you should keep to yourself. The old adage: Trust no one

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