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Facebook Data Collection Under Fire Again 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the das-ist-streng-verboten dept.
JohnBert writes "A German privacy protection authority is calling on organizations there to close their Facebook fan pages and remove the social networking site's 'Like' button from their websites, arguing that Facebook harvests data in violation of German and European Union law. The Independent Centre for Privacy Protection (ULD), the privacy protection agency for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, issued a news release on Friday saying Facebook builds a broad, individualized profile for people who view Facebook content on third-party websites. Data is sent back to Facebook's servers in the U.S., which the agency alleges violates the German Telemedia Act, the German Federal Data Protection Act and the Data Protection Act of Schleswig-Holstein. The agency alleges the data is held by Facebook for two years, and wants website owners in the state to remove links to Facebook by the end of next month or possibly face a fine."
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Facebook Data Collection Under Fire Again

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  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:23AM (#37201772)

    I see this story and right above it is "Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook" No thanks.

  • by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:38AM (#37201842)

    The agency alleges the data is held by Facebook for two years, and wants website owners in the state to remove links to Facebook by the end of next month or possibly face a fine.

    I whole heartedly agree. No controversy seen from here, whatsoever.

    "Social networking" (a la FB) is a gross (as in, makes me want to puke) application of technology.

    He's right. Get out now, and never go back. This is not the web you wanted. This is the web *they* wanted. Don't go there, or accept you'll be owned, ultimately.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)
      A government fining websites that -link- to facebook would be a pretty scary step. Banning linking to -legal- websites now, just because we don't like it? Geez. I thought the progression from banning child porn and copyrighted music was going to take longer than a few years, but apparently not. We can expect that linking to news and blogs not approved by the ministry of the internet will be punishable by death within 4 years, right?

      This citizen enjoyed the Internet for the brief time it existed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They do not ban linking to facebook because they do not like it.
        They ban providing Facebook (throught the "like", "become a fan", ... links) with information that they WILLINGLY and KNOWINGLY are not handling according to the rules and regulations in Germany.
        In other words: they are banning sites from cooperating with illegal actions. And I do not see the problem in that, because as far as I know that is already illegal.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Banning linking to -legal- websites now, just because we don't like it? Geez."

        Try again.
        This is in Germany, and only applies to websites that are hosted in Germany.
        In Germany, Facebook would not be able to be hosted because Facebooks datamining systems are ILLEGAL in Germany. They violate privacy laws and violate laws that describe how, where, and when, personal/private information may be transmitted.
        Since Facebook is NOT hosted in Germany, the German government can't touch Facebook itself and are not tryi

        • I wonder if Germany will extradite, or detain whilst on holiday, Facebook's directors to face trial in Germany for their crimes? (in the same manner as European gambling websites directors have been extradited to the USA). If not, then it's just yet more hot air designed to look good in media soundbites.

          • by Rhywden (1940872)

            That's why they're going after the websites linking to Facebook, not Facebook itself...

            Furthermore, there'd be no problem at all if they replaced the button with something which only loads the Facebook code if a user clicks on it - rather than anytime I open a page with such a button on it.

          • Under common law, you cannot be trialed in a country for offenses made in another country. While living in the US you are subject to US law. While living in Germany you are subject to German law. This is commonly held by most of the world, the US being the major exception which trials people for doing "crimes" outside the US...
          • by jonbryce (703250)

            No, because Facebook are not violating any German laws as they are not in Germany. What is against the law is exporting personal information outside the EU unless you have a safe harbour agreement in place where the company you are exporting it to agrees to comply with EU law in respect of that data.

      • by codegen (103601) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:58AM (#37202580) Journal

        Read the story. Or even read the summary. They are not banning links to facebook. If the sites had a <a href="http//www.facebook.com> link on their page, the government would not care. What they care about is that javascript snippet that collects user information about you and your friends when you visit the page and sends it back to facebook, whether you click on the "like" button or not. The EU in general and Germany in particular have strong rules about what information a corporation is allowed to collect and retain about you. Facebook breaks the rules.

        I wish my government was as strong. You can say, "don't" go to such websites, but so many sites have opted into facebook's koolaid, that it would be a limited web indeed. Competition only works when you have a real choice.

        • From the summary and the article

          The agency alleges the data is held by Facebook for two years, and wants website owners in the state to remove links to Facebook by the end of next month or possibly face a fine."

          I recognize there is a big difference between the "like" button and a simple link, but the article says "link." To be fair, I suspect it was the article's mistake. Still, I wouldn't trust that a government official knew the difference between javascript and a link.

          Moreover, my concerns are not completely assuaged. Facebook's like buttons are still a far cry from child porn and warez. It seems to me that this is still an escalation in what governments can ban on the inte

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I recognize there is a big difference between the "like" button and a simple link, but the article says "link." To be fair, I suspect it was the article's mistake. Still, I wouldn't trust that a government official knew the difference between javascript and a link.

            Then you would be mistaken. The original report [datenschutzzentrum.de] is pretty detailed and documents Facebook's tracking user techniques even at the Javascript level.

        • Moreover, you don't know if a web site does it until you visited that web site. And then it's too late (unless you use NoScript&Co.)

      • A government fining websites that -link- to facebook would be a pretty scary step.

        I agree. But this story is NOT about linking to websites. I can add a a href= link to facebook and nobody gets tracked. The like buttons are not pure links. If you add a img src link to an image hotlinked at my server or more disturbing, include javascript hosted on my server on your site then we are talking about something completely different. I can not track a simple a href= link to my site. I CAN track hotlinked images and javascript. See the huge difference now?

      • by silanea (1241518)
        This is not for linking to Facebook but for embedding something in their websites that exposes visitors' information to Facebook.
  • They meet *industry-accepted* standards.. Sounds safe to me..

  • Get a proxy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by whereiswaldo (459052) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:49AM (#37201896) Journal

    I've been running a web proxy at home for awhile now and the more I review the logs, the more I see that the entire WWW is a massive data collection engine. Trying to keep up with blocks is like playing whack-a-mole (albeit similarly satisfying).

    I agree with their call to action to have FaceBook links removed, but I'd also add that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    • by daktari (1983452)
      Whack-a-mole by proxy. Nice one. I just add these nefarious URLs as local loopbacks in my host file. That seems to work well: haven't seen any "like" buttons for a while.
    • I solve this by taking a whitelist approach. Want my browser to run your scripts/flash or accept your cookies? Only if I allow it. Disable disk caching because it's not worth allowing evercookies to survive. Set flash storage to clear on browser exit. Disable geolocation API and HTML5 storage, because I can't control access to those individually (yet). Problems solved.

    • Agreed. Ever since I started using RequestPolicy I'm flabbergasted at how much useless and miscelaneus tracking systems are there on each page.

    • Solution is to just use a different browser for Facebook. Facebook on Chrome browser can't tell where you've been on Firefox.

      I had to recently face facts, that not using Facebook was bad for my social life. And this is having weekend interests that, for the most part, are far away from the connected world.
  • Picking on Facebook is easy because what they do is quite visible, yet there are many other services that do the same thing without the user's knowledge. Where is the outcry against them?

    Maybe we should be thanking Facebook for being so crass that they are raising awareness.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      The UK is doing just that. Writing in my phone, so you'll have to search UK cookies law ICO to find the details.

      I think the law will make (or clarify that it already is?) Google analytics illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Germany has strict privacy laws because they have learned from history. For the same reason the percentage of people who highly value privacy among the general populace is higher than most other countries as well.

    The thing is, even if we disregard conspiracy theories about how Zuck is a CIA drone the three letter agencies will have access to all the data they ask for anyway, and they can do so even overtly since the PATRIOT act. Not to mention people are entrusting their identities, social and political inc

  • .. the data is held by Facebook for two years ..

    That is two of The Old Ones years- I think each The Old Ones year corresponds to ~15 billion puny human years.

  • Many warned, but who listened?

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