German row threatens Facebook

Facebook’s privacy policy has been branded illegal by one German data protection authority amid claims that the “Like” button sparks tracking activity that contravenes EU data laws.
The country is no stranger to privacy controversy. Earlier this year, Google Analytics also faced a ban in Germany. The move was sparked because Google stores the details its collects on users’ IP addresses and bank details in the US, which is a strict violation of Germany’s privacy laws.
The latest row has erupted in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, where security officials believe that Facebook’s ubiquity is a form of data gathering activity to monitor user habits, which is in violation of local, national, and European Union laws.
Led by local data protection commissioner Thilo Weichert, the committee told all provincial institutions to remove all links and pages associated with the feature, including Facebook fan pages and the “Like” button embedded within their sites. They could face fines of up to 50,000 euros if they do not comply.
Weichert said: “Whoever visits or uses a plug-in must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years. Facebook builds a broad individual, and for members even a personalised, profile.”
In response, Facebook verified Weichert’s findings, but said that data retention expires in 90 days, which is well within “normal industry standards”.
But Weichert is threatening to file a lawsuit if Facebook does not delete the Like button features from Schleswig-Holstein websites.

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