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Facebook Sued Over App Center Data Sharing In Germany 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the privacy-advocates-like-this dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an IDG News report: "German consumer organizations are suing Facebook because the social network keeps sharing personal data with third-party app makers without getting explicit consent from users. Third party apps often want access to a users' chat as well as information about friends, personal contact information and the ability to post on a user's Facebook wall. But instead of asking users for permission, the apps available through Facebook's App Center just grant themselves access to the data, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV), said on Thursday. ... In the past, Facebook asked for user consent by showing a pop-up window that warned data was shared with third-parties, and a user had the choice to click on allow or not allow. But when the App Center was introduced that changed, said Michaela Zinke, policy officer at the VZBV. 'I'm very confused why Facebook changed it,' she said, adding that before Facebook complied with German law and now doesn't anymore."
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Facebook Sued Over App Center Data Sharing In Germany

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  • by PopAndGame (2790489) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:06PM (#42217609)
    protector of the world?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      the subject line that continue to the body annoy the hell out everyone else as well?
    • by Lained (1078581) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:26PM (#42217831)
      No, we're not megalomaniac like the U.S. and we do know where our jurisdiction ends (basically at our borders).

      With that said, we do it for our own rights, inside our borders and under our legal jurisdiction.

      Sorry to disappoint you.

      Note: And saying "don't use it if you don't agree with their policy" doesn't cut it. If it's infringing in privacy rights, it'll still be infringing even if I don't use the service, as long as the service is available for us with that policy.

      • by bkaul01 (619795)
        OP has a point though. While you don't explicitly try to extend your control beyond your jurisdiction, when it comes to privacy protection on major websites, we all benefit from Europe's oversight, even here in the US, because it's much easier for sites to just make their whole system work in a way that satisfies European regulations rather than fragmenting into different sub-sites for each jurisdiction.
        • by Lained (1078581)

          While you don't explicitly try to extend your control beyond your jurisdiction[...]

          It's neither explicitly nor implicitly, it's a consequence, and that consequence it's a choice made entirely by the service providers so they don't have to implement different policies (it's the easiest way out like you said).
          But that also causes a problem because sooner or later that "common" policy will clash between different jurisdictions. I see a risk of that happening between US and EU, since we do have privacy protection laws, but facebook being a US company has to comply to the the x,y,z ACTs reg

        • Or simply continue with the $homeNation-centric version and take the hit on fines in the EU. See also: motor car safety standards, counterfeit goods, tax evasion etc etc.
    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      It's just you.

      Even the summary states that these are consumer organizations. This is not the same thing as the German government. We have consumer protection groups doing similar things in the United States. As far as whether the US or the EU is better for privacy I'd say it's a wash; Europe is better in some areas, America is better in others.

      • US vs. EU privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:03PM (#42220361)

        I'm genuinely interested to know which areas you think the US is better in. As someone who lives in Europe, my perception is that neither the US government (any of its three branches) nor US big business has any interest at all in protecting the privacy of its own citizens, or pretty much any rights at all for anyone other than its own citizens.

        This perception is based on a seemingly endless series of measures taken by those government arms (under whichever party/parties at the time) and businesses that seem to erode anything resembling individual rights in favour of the almighty state and/or corporate profit-making, regardless of any international standards, formal treaties, or in many cases even the obvious intent of the US Constitution.

        I find the US to be a world leader in invading privacy. The sooner they stop exporting things like intrusive security theatre at airports and universal monitoring of citizens' communications to the rest of us, the better. (Of course, they only succeed in doing that because our own leaders are so spineless that they often accept it, citing nonsense like "special relationships" or the usual root keys to human rights law like terrorism or child abuse. I'm an equal opportunity government critic in this area, I just think the US often seems to cave to special interests first chronologically.)

        • Re:US vs. EU privacy (Score:4, Informative)

          by Kjella (173770) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:12PM (#42221521) Homepage

          I'm genuinely interested to know which areas you think the US is better in. As someone who lives in Europe, my perception is that neither the US government (any of its three branches) nor US big business has any interest at all in protecting the privacy of its own citizens, or pretty much any rights at all for anyone other than its own citizens.

          Well, for one Europe is many countries. In Norway I feel they're butting in on very many things, but always under the promise that it won't be used for anything bad:
          1. Probably the most telltale sign here in Norway is that we no longer need to submit our tax report. The government sends out a pre-filled report and unless you've got any objections you don't need to do anything. On it, the employers have reported your income, the property registry any properties, the car registry any cars, banks report wealth and interest income, any stocks or funds held on a Norwegian commodity account, you get your tax class, child benefits, pretty much anything and everything that's already in a registry about you somewhere. Most people actually don't need to change anything unless they have foreign holdings of some sort.
          2. Gambling machines are only permitted using personalized electronic user cards, which enforce a 400 NOK/day gambling limit to curb gambling addiction. Coincidentally, they have a huge registry of gamblers and how much they play, but they promise not to use it for anything bad.
          3. If I pay more than 10k NOK = 1780 USD to anyone in cash, I can be criminally punished as an accessory to their tax fraud, regardless of any actual knowledge. Big money transfers should always leave an electronic trace, but of course they promise to not use it for anything bad.
          4. Very many places now they've set up "average speed" speeding cameras that always photographs everyone and match them to find speeders getting too fast from A to B, while deleting the rest. At least that's what they say, but of course they promise not to use it for anything bad.
          5. Lately they've been very efficient in killing off physical tickets bought with cash in favor of personal electronic tickets, which together with electronic card readers mean they collect tons of data on your movement. Automated toll roads that simply take your picture rather than pay the toll with anonymous cash is already standard. But of course they promise to use it only for statistics and not for anything bad.

          I could probably go on for a long while like this and in almost every case the public accepts it because right now the safeguards seem pretty solid, the watchdogs reliable and the government dialed mostly towards good. But if the dial is ever set to evil, lord help us because what we do is becoming extremely transparent to the government. If there was ever a need to return to the old ways we might find they don't exist anymore. In that sense I have the impression that the US government is a bit more hands off, it's mostly the corporations that have pretty much free reign to collect data on you. Here in Europe the business interests are regulated more, but the government itself is eroding privacy fast, your privacy now very much depends on promises on how they'll not use your data.

          • I take your points, but I don't think all your examples are the same.

            For example, the tax case is pretty much the only instance where government necessarily assesses everyone's life across a broad range of economic activities (as far as taxation is ever ethically legitimate, but let's take it as a necessary evil for the purposes of this discussion). The information collected is provided by a range of sources who each have only a part of it and for a sensible reason, and there is a genuine reason to consolid

            • by Kjella (173770)

              Here in Europe the business interests are regulated more, but the government itself is eroding privacy fast, your privacy now very much depends on promises on how they'll not use your data.

              And the problem with that is that most governments are so big that when things do go wrong, it can magically be no-one's fault and no-one's responsibility to make things right, even though the consequences for the innocent victim can be severe. My sig says what it says for a reason...

              Oh, I'm not that worried that the government will do so carelessly. What I do worry about is that there'll be something like 9/11, a Patriot Act and then all those protections will have disappeared in a puff of dust in the name of national security and public safety. Particularly things that are presented as a temporary emergency measure against a vaguely defined enemy in a "war" that doesn't end. No government wants to relinquish power.

              • Oh, I'm not that worried that the government will do so carelessly.

                I am. I was once a victim of mistaken identity, after someone made a trivial error in a tax office and screwed up my records. It took months to get that sorted out, and those months were extremely stressful both due to the effort of getting things put right and the more mundane concern of not having money that was mine and I needed.

                This obviously biases my viewpoint, but sadly I'm hardly alone here. On a simple statistical basis, I am far more worried about a government that lacks adequate checks and balanc

  • Yet another reason to stay the hell away from FB. Far, far away...
    • You are correct. Don't use it if you don't like their policies.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not really possible.

        For a lot of us, successfully integrating into society, means having an FB account, just like having an email account. Except that, with email accounts, there are literally thousands of options, including self-hosted. Facebook, is a single entity. No choice whatsoever. They might be big, but they offer a unique, necessary service, and should be regulated.

        It could be compared to Google's search engine, everyone who uses the internet "needs" to search for what they want, but you're not loc

        • by Teun (17872) on Friday December 07, 2012 @03:12PM (#42218479) Homepage

          For a lot of us, successfully integrating into society, means having an FB account, just like having an email account. -snip- They might be big, but they offer a unique, necessary service, and should be regulated.

          What a load of crock!

          Society will run quite nicely without you spreading your personal life all over the net!
          When you make your living off the public like as a politician, a top sporter or especially some Hollywood VIP you might have reasons for running a Twitter or Facebook account, for the rest of us it's plainly a liability.
          I have helped a chef set up the privacy settings for his restaurant related FB account and it's a bloody nightmare, clueless friends and family keep dumping private information and it's near impossible to stop this nonsense.

          So yes, for this lot at least the existing (EU) regulations should be upheld.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:22PM (#42217779)
    That Facebook is so brazenly whoring out their bitches (their users) to the johns (aka "third-party app makers"), or that so many users so willingly lay down and take it. I'm all for legalizing prostitution, so I am a bit torn, but the metaphor kinda breaks down when "the bitches" are unaware of what's being done to them.
  • I wonder how many of the Facebook flames, that will inevitably make their way this discussion thread, are authored by people with Facebook accounts?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:45PM (#42218143)

    In the past, Facebook asked for user consent by showing a pop-up window that warned data was shared with third-parties, and a user had the choice to click on allow or not allow. But when the App Center was introduced that changed, said Michaela Zinke, policy officer at the VZBV. 'I'm very confused why Facebook changed it,' she said, adding that before Facebook complied with German law and now doesn't anymore."

    They doubtless changed it because too many people were clicking on "NO".

  • We need more legislation regarding data sharing, not only do I want to be informed my data is shared, I need to know what's done with it.
  • Hah, Facebooks response is right on the mark. They did not take away the informed consent. They moved where the permissions apps requested appeared from a popup interstitial to a list on the app page next to the install button. If German government has an issue with the CSS used by Facebook they're welcome to suggest an alternative, but I'd agree with Facebook that governments surely have better things to do than dictate to foreign web sites the exact font styles in use. Apparently the VBBZ doesn't - surely

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