Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cloud Facebook Privacy Social Networks News Your Rights Online

Facebook: the Law Says You Can't Have Your Data 165

Posted by timothy
from the just-following-orders-from-ireland dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After making 22 complaints regarding Facebook's various practices, the Austrian group Europe versus Facebook stumbled upon an important tidbit: Facebook says it is not required to give you a copy of some of your personal data if it deems doing so would adversely affect its trade secrets or intellectual property. I followed up with Facebook and learned the company insists the law places 'reasonable limits' on the data that has to be provided."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Facebook: the Law Says You Can't Have Your Data

Comments Filter:
  • Skeptical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nonprofiteer (1906180) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @03:43PM (#37705456)
    I've looked into this, and I'm fairly certain that the particular piece of information that Facebook is holding back from these (800+ page) reports is a user's biometric faceprint. Claiming that the code for those prints is Facebook's intellectual property does NOT strike me as unreasonable.
    • it's no different than claiming a photo of me is facebooks intellectual property. New format, same old argument.
    • Where did they get the user's biometric faceprint from? Probably from their photos, in which case I would argue that they shouldn't be using a trade secret that results in information they would have to disclose by law. Either that or else they should transform the faceprint into something that wouldn't reveal the information they want to keep secret.
    • by Qwertie (797303)
      It's odd that neither of the ZDNet articles (to which Slashdot has linked in recent days) tell us what information Facebook is said to be holding back. So what information are you withholding from us, ZDNet? Is the story not juicy enough if it is too specific?
    • by omnichad (1198475)

      You can't copyright facts. A person's face is a fact as much as their fingerprint is. Once it's distilled into purely factual data, they can't really claim ownership of it, since that's effectively claiming ownership of my face.

      • by ckaminski (82854)
        Except you very much DO own your likeness and it's use thereof.
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        From GP I make up that Facebook uses photos where a person is tagged to create some kind of data object that they can use to find the same person in other photos (as has been discussed here before). This data is a representation of a fact, and as such copyrightable, and I think it can be considered a trade secret. The trade secret part being how this facial recognition is done.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hot off the presses yesterday
    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/10/12/226257/facebook-your-personal-data-is-a-trade-secret

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No it isn't. The link is in the story and this is a follow up!

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @03:48PM (#37705542)

    If I have any sort of interaction with any company besides a pure cash transaction, somehow I'm ceding all rights to my information. I get more calls on my landline from 3rd party vendors who've purchased my profile from some company than I do from people I know. I bought a house 4 years ago and my mailbox was stuffed with targeted new homeowner fliers on the first day I opened the mailbox. I filled a prescription with an online pharmacy and now I've got people calling me trying to sell me all kinds of healthcare products. I bought one political magazine prescription (more out of pity than interest) and now I get tons of fliers and ads from special interest groups. I made a few small dollar donations ($20 range) in the last couple elections and now I have politicians from all over the country both calling and writing me for donations!

    We need a privacy bill of rights. Opt-in, full disclosure, and deterrent-level fines and fees for breaking the rules.

    • by Desler (1608317) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @03:53PM (#37705606)

      You did opt-in. Did you not read the TOS? It's your own fault for not reading it fully.

      • So, what? I'm supposed to go live in a cave? When you have to "opt in" in order to get a service you need, that's coersion in my book.
        • by Desler (1608317)

          Because without facebook you would whither up and die, right? Oh wait, you wouldn't.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            No, hyperbole aside, there's an increasing number of things that one is locked out of if one doesn't choose to do business with FB. Things like contests and sometimes jobs. It's scummy, but there are employers that insist upon having access to view a potential employees FB page, even though it's extremely poor judgment.

            • by shentino (1139071)

              So facebook is to social networking what microsoft and windows are to personal computers.

            • by cayenne8 (626475)

              No, hyperbole aside, there's an increasing number of things that one is locked out of if one doesn't choose to do business with FB. Things like contests and sometimes jobs. It's scummy, but there are employers that insist upon having access to view a potential employees FB page, even though it's extremely poor judgment.

              Interesting...I've seen none of this. I have never been on FB...and have no problems not being on it.

              I think there was an article here on /. about some service...(spotify?) that required a

            • I have yet to encounter an employer that requires this either personally or through my friends.
              I had one friend who's employer asked if he had a FB page. He said he did but that it was marked private. They did not pursue it further.
              -nB

              • I have yet to encounter an employer that requires this either personally or through my friends. I had one friend who's employer asked if he had a FB page. He said he did but that it was marked private. They did not pursue it further. -nB

                That was probably good enough for them: they just wanted to know if your friend was likely to be writing about them in public.

                • which of course is covered by a company directive stating that all communications relating to the company must follow a specific guideline. In my case I can not comment at all under my name about specific company stuff, and if I post a review of a released product I have to post a prominent disclaimer that it is my opinion and is in no way endorsed by my employer.

            • No, hyperbole aside, there's an increasing number of things that one is locked out of if one doesn't choose to do business with FB. Things like contests and sometimes jobs. It's scummy, but there are employers that insist upon having access to view a potential employees FB page, even though it's extremely poor judgment.

              Yes. They can ask.

              And if that becomes an issue the next time I go job hunting, they'll be able to see my Facebook page. Now, mind you, I've never had a Facebook page, but that doesn't mean a potential employer won't be able to see my Facebook page. Well, a Facebook page with my name and picture on it.

              Anyone that can't figure out he needs to set up a fake Facebook account probably isn't worth hiring anyway.

        • When you have to "opt in" in order to get a service you need

          Need? I won't argue that this isn't sometimes the case, the idea that you must hand over this information for basic services like your ISP or other utilities is very concerning. But this is Facebook we're talking about here. No one needs Facebook. You might want it, and it might make it easier to stay in touch with your friends and family, but you don't need it. It's up to you to weigh your personal information against the service they provide; to reiterate, you are paying for their services with your

          • by migla (1099771)

            >No one needs Facebook.

            Facebook is a de facto standard. You also don't need ears or a voice. It's just helluva lot easier and more convenient to communicate if you have these things, depending on your surroundings.

            Myself, I've so far resisted signing up, but it has meant I don't hear or get heard as easily among facebooking peers, of which there are plenty among friends, family and acquaintances.

            I'd say there is an unfair balance of power between facebook and the little person, which will lead to the li

            • Look at it this way. Imagine you're trying to give a speech, but the people in the back of the room can't hear you. I've got a bullhorn handy, is it my duty to give it to you so that you can be heard? What if I make my living by renting out bullhorns to public speakers? If I ask you for $1 in exchange for the bullhorn is that wrong?

              I never said it didn't make life easier, in fact I said quite the opposite. All I said was that it wasn't a requirement to have a normal healthy life, and considering you yo

              • by Lisandro (799651)

                Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom of audience. You have the right to say whatever you want, as much as the rest of us have a right to ignore you if we decide so.

          • by fhic (214533)

            Yes, need.

            My local paper of record (the San Diego Union-Tribune) REQUIRES a valid Facebook account to comment on everything they publish online. Given that I'm not quite willing to forgo my right to comment publicly on what they publish, I need to have a Facebook account.

            (I leave the idiocy of their decision for another comment.)

            • "My local paper of record (the San Diego Union-Tribune) REQUIRES a valid Facebook account to comment on everything they publish online."

              Awwww.. Now you can only comment on thousands of other non broken message boards! the horror!

              The only people that use facebook are people who did not grow up learning that you should NEVER use your real name online. I have managed perfectly fine without a facebook account and stating that you *need* one is just laughable.

              Personally, I would rather leave the world wide web t

          • by fferreres (525414)

            In practice, ISP are easily replaceable, Facebook is not.

        • ... get a service you need, ...

          If you think you "need" Facebook, the odds are that you need faceslap instead (and maybe a lot of it).

        • by g0bshiTe (596213)
          Coercion would be when you have to opt-out.
        • by swalve (1980968)
          No, just use your fucking brain and don't put things on a SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE that you don't want other people to see.
      • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @04:31PM (#37706046) Homepage Journal

        You did opt-in. Did you not read the TOS? It's your own fault for not reading it fully.

        wut?

        Facebook Terms of Use

        ... ikpoo foobus dorsat frobnym yinfun grostnit and all your base are belong to us, hitherto shall be volpim lepsum kruften veeblefetzer potrzebie ...

        Well, dang!

        • by game kid (805301)

          I like that Facebook lets you create a frobnym for your own grostnit or yinfun (even if you're just a dorsat), but forcing you to put their kruften in your veeblefetzer is just cruel.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        The dumb part was actually reading the "we reserve the right to change our terms at any time" and NOT expecting Facebook to sneak in undeclinable leaks in your privacy.

        • I am not sure I encountered a TOS lately that does not incorporate this language. Even my cellular service has that!

          Not that it could stand in court, mind you, but I am sure that I will only get dinged enough that I am not willing to pay a lawyer to make it right.

      • Not the junk mail at his new house. That was from the US postal service which is now 75% junk mail. He "opted into" that by buying a house in the US.

        OP also probably meant opt-in as in by actual choice, not "You agree to be spammed terms or you go without the internet, e-mail, facebook, phone service, etc." I'd agree that it's probably wishing for pie in the sky, but blaming him for it is just rationalizing big corporate overlords annoying us mere mortals.
      • No, the TOS was never presented to me. I filled in my email address and password, and now I've given Facebook the right to do whatever they want with what I posted? What person would willingly give Facebook the right to distribute DELETED information to anyone with some cash? My accounts are deleted, Facebook's file should be too.
    • No kidding. Anymore, money is made from your disclosure and release of personal information.

      You'd think paying for something is a good solution, as well, but it's not... most of the time. When you sign up for accounts, that information is sold to help keep the cost low.

      The only things that are truly secure online are things that most people can't afford.

    • by Teun (17872)
      To an extend Europe already has such a privacy bill of rights .

      EU nations have their individual ways of incorporating it in law but like in this Austrian case I'm quite sure it sure gives you full rights to your own data.

      Yes I know it's quite shocking there are valid laws not passed by the USofA congress.

    • by cparker15 (779546)

      Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • We need a privacy bill of rights. Opt-in, full disclosure, and deterrent-level fines and fees for breaking the rules.

      Yes, but in the meantime submit all your phone numbers to The National Do Not Call Registry [donotcall.gov].

  • Credit agencies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 13, 2011 @03:57PM (#37705652)

    Forget Facebook. You agree to terms of service with them. Of course no one ever reads those terms, but at least you're agreeing to a relationship with them. I don't get the credit agencies. I have no direct relationship with the credit agencies, but they collect all this data on me and it's MY responsibility to monitor and correct it if it's wrong. And if I want to check that data more than once a year, I have to pay them for MY OWN DATA.

    • You saved me from making the same argument. So I'll add on a little bit. The Cloud...dun dun dun. Since the latest trend is storage in the cloud, think about how much of YOUR data will never EVER go away, no matter how hard you try. Facebook is just a small example of the amount of crap people are committing to be forever out of their grasp.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      That is true, however, there isn't a reasonable basis for suggesting that there's informed consent when the ToS are full of legalese requiring an attorney to decipher. Legally, it doesn't matter, but in terms of what a reasonable person thinks, it's absurd.

      Ultimately, most politicians are either rich or attorneys, and the latter is usually also the former. It's astonishing to me how folks seem to think that paying an attorney $300 every time they come in contact with a EULA or ToS is reasonable.

      • Ultimately, most politicians are either rich or attorneys, and the latter is usually also the former.

        That's not exactly true. A slight majority of people who graduate law school never work as attorneys, and of those who can get work the average pay is $110,000/year. That's a fantastic wage, but it's hardly enough to qualify someone as "rich" in the sense that they're clueless to the demands of everyday life. A (barely) six-figure salary doesn't really place someone in the same social category as influence-peddling multi-millionares who think the world revolves around them.

    • Re:Credit agencies (Score:5, Interesting)

      by houghi (78078) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @04:44PM (#37706180)

      I read the conditions of my loan to the Corleone family. That does not make it right or legit.
      That is what the law is for: if there are unreasonable things happening, the law should clear things up.

      Unfortunately in many countries, the law tends to side with the companies and not the general population.

      • So you make an agreement with somebody and then you use the law to back out of that agreement? And so you are better than the Corleones how?
    • by ffflala (793437)
      I felt exactly the same way for years. It's an incredibly frustrating perspective. There is a different one, but I only reached it after formally studying consumer law.

      Keep in mind these are CREDIT agencies, and what that means. Credit is someone else is agreeing to loan you money, be it revolving (a credit card, for example) or intended for a specific purchase (home, car, etc.) If the friendly corner store owner is willing to let you pay him back next time b/c you forgot your wallet, they're also exte
  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @03:58PM (#37705668)
    I have recently become an Opera enthusiast. What do people think of using Opera Unite as an alternative to Facebook? You hold all your own data that way.
    • Isn't Unite a cloud service like Turbo?

      • No, it's kinda the opposite. All content is hosted locally, with your browser acting as a server and authoring tool. The only thing that's in the cloud is DNS to resolve your host.

    • What do people think of using Opera Unite as an alternative to Facebook?

      All the people that I want to keep in contact via facebook to switch to Opera and I'll gladly embrace it. Thing is, I think convincing them to switch to google plus would be simpler, since they wouldn't have to start using a new browser, and I've been unable to get them to switch even to that. So opera unite is worthless to me until then.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/10/12/226257/facebook-your-personal-data-is-a-trade-secret

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @04:14PM (#37705864) Homepage Journal

    I'd expect this being stated by one of the senior wizards at Unseen University.

  • The fact that they charge you a ton of personal data in exchange for their minimal services - email, blog, games.

    Most of those things are stuff you can get for free for a lot less information. Probably the worst thing about Facebook is that they aggregate everything together. The whole is more valuable than the parts, yet they don't give you more stuff for that.

    I am not paranoid. I will give out my personal data freely - if I get something valuable in exchange for it. I do it all the time with ba

    • by bberens (965711)
      "charge you a ton of personal data" -- The aggregation of all that data has lots of value, but the value of any one individual's data on a site like Google/Facebook/Amazon is approximately zero.
  • In a reasonable country, Facebook would be a criminal enterprise. At minimum, they have committed theft of your personal information and now claim that it is their to do with whatever this week's posted ToS says that they can.
  • There's a big difference between "The law says you can't have it" and "The law says we're only required to give you this much, which we've already done, so tough nuts". Facebook is saying the later (and from the summary the OP apparently understands that), while the former is the title of this story.

    The issue is important enough without blatant link-baiting in the form of titles that imply government restrictions on your access to your own information. Facebook is a marketing corporation masquerading as a
  • Facebook knows everything there is to know about you.

    It even knows where you put the keys you lost.

    They won't tell you where your keys are- but they sure do know.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Facebook knows everything there is to know about you.

      It even knows where you put the keys you lost.

      They won't tell you where your keys are- but they sure do know.

      I wonder if the source the data out to Santa Claus...

      • by idontgno (624372)

        No, actually, they stumbled into the treasure trove of all that data when Santa signed up for Facebook.

        Now he's not the only one who knows if you've been bad or good. Damn FB game apps leaking all kinds of information back to FB.

    • Facebook knows everything there is to know about you.

      It even knows where you put the keys you lost.

      They won't tell you where your keys are- but they sure do know.

      What about my missing sock?

  • At least in my county's (Finland) respective EU legislation there are no such provisions, that would give Facebook the right to hold my my personal data, even if it contains "trade secrets". In contrast, the law specifically notes that all my personal data must be provided to me irrespective of secrecy provisions or Non-Disclosure Agreements (only some law enforcement databases are an exemption from this– business databases definitely are not.)

    If Facebook designed their database so, that it contains t

    • by msobkow (48369)

      The law in the EU, Canada, UK, Australia, US, etc. is quite clear about what constitutes "personal data." It does not mean "everything we know about you."

      • by hydrofix (1253498)

        I believe you are talking out of your ass. Quoting the Irish legislation in question:

        1. – (1) In this Act, unless context otherwise requires –

        ...

        ‘personal data’ means data relating to a living individual who is or can be identified either from the data or from the data in conjunction with other information that is in, or is likely to come into, the possession of the data controller;

        This pretty much means "everything we know about you." As long as you (a person) can be connected to this data, it is subject to the EU data protection directive.

        AFAIK EU has much stricter data protection legislation than The Land Of The Free, which I as an EU citizen find comforting. I am not that sure about Canada though.

  • What the law says will be determined in court. A company telling the law is on their side is really not news.

    • What the law says will be determined in court. A company telling the law is on their side is really not news.

      No kidding. Apple insisted that jailbreaking was against the law until a court slapped them down. Void your warranty, sure ... but not illegal. Facebook is playing the same game: they know that some large number of people will take them at (ahem!) "face" value, and that's sufficient.

In every non-trivial program there is at least one bug.

Working...