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German State Bans Facebook Like Button

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday August 23, 2011 )

Web sites operating from the German state of Schleswig-Holstein using the Facebook “like” button will face hefty fines after the end of September this year.

Furthermore, web sites in the state must also shut down their fan pages on Facebook.

The edict comes from Schleswig-Holstein’s Independent Centre for Privacy Protection (ULD). Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany and has a population of around 2.8 million.

The ULD believes the features are in violation of the German Telemedia Act (TMG) and of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG).

The major point of concern would appear to be the fact data is transferred to the USA and from there, to the website owner. The “broad profiling” the ULD says occurs over two years and infringes on German and European data protection laws.

If the features are not decommissioned by the end of September, web site owners may be pursued and action taken, possibly culminating in a fine of up to 50,000 euros – that’s around USD$72,000!

Additionally, the ULD is actively encouraging residents of the state to not register for a Facebook account in order to avoid what it says is “comprehensive profiling by this company”. The ULD says there are European and other social media sites that “take the protection of privacy rights of Internet users far more serious(ly)”.

The ULD warns this is only the beginning – it will continue a privacy impact analysis of Facebook applications.

The ULD certainly isn’t mincing words and given they are referring to national legislation, I wonder if other German states will follow suit.

Facebook has stated it will review the materials from the ULD, “both on our own behalf and on the behalf of web users throughout Germany.”

The ULD announcement can be viewed here (English) and its full report and findings viewed here (German).


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