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Facebook: Your Personal Data is a Trade Secret 203

An anonymous reader writes "An Austrian group called Europe versus Facebook has so far made 22 complaints regarding the social network's practices. In the process, the organization has 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."
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Facebook: Your Personal Data is a Trade Secret

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  • Shock Horror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cryacin ( 657549 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @08:00PM (#37696958)
    Of course they'll tell you that. In fact, haven't you realised? You ARE their intellectual property. All you iSheep, Twits and FacePalmers. Go on, put your private life on teh intertubes for all to see. Check in with FourSquare to become the mayor of burger king to get a 10% discount on your next piece of crap for lunch, and watch your insurance company make a silent note. Write on your wall about your cool new Nike Football shoes, and watch targeted advertising appear to you for other football related products.

    The herd is a goldmine, ripe for the picking.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @08:01PM (#37696966)

    So you, by definition, have knowledge of all of you personal information (otherwise it wouldn't be personal), they must think that they have a way of turning knowledge about your self that is available to you consciously, into information that isn't, for example by analyzing your web history, or use of language, or friends, in order to predict certain cultural preferences, or ad susceptibility. That's perfectly believable, and no, you probably aren't entitled to it. If you don't want them building models of you, don't submit your information.

  • Remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LqdSlpStrm ( 464344 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @08:05PM (#37696984) Journal

    If it is free, you are not the client. You are the product, and you are being sold.

  • Re:Remember... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @09:13PM (#37697366)

    Please stop this stupid meme. You are the customer. You buy a service and pay with information and by looking at ads. They sell this information and ad space to third parties for money. Those third parties are also customers. The product is the service, since that is what they are producing.

  • Re:Shock Horror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @09:29PM (#37697430)
    Indeed, although there is not much personal information on Slashdot. The problem is not that people have public lives, it is that Facebook greatly expands the scope of what is "public" while greatly diminishing the scope of what is "private." The information Facebook collects is much broader in scope than Slashdot, and extends beyond what people actively post on Facebook.

    There is also the matter that supposedly private messages on Facebook are not really private at all, a classic case of the "third party server" problem. Unlike email, for which there are well-developed (but rarely used) methods of keeping private messages private, Facebook is designed to thwart such efforts (e.g. to encrypt an email, I can just hit a checkbox, assuming keys have been set up; to encrypt a Facebook message, I have to manually invoke a cryptosystem, copy and paste, and so forth -- a pain even for technically competent users). For most people, the "privacy" issue on Facebook is related to what their friends, coworkers, and potential future contacts can see -- very few people give any thought to the amount of information that Facebook itself has, and for many Facebook has become the primary means of communication.
  • Re:Remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by subreality ( 157447 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @11:02PM (#37697926)

    I'll drop the meme when they stop treating me like a product.

  • Re:Shock Horror (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @12:06AM (#37698226) Journal

    The problem is not that people have public lives, it is that the INTERNET greatly expands the scope of what is "public" while greatly diminishing the scope of what is "private.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 13, 2011 @12:15AM (#37698260)

    Surely these Austrians aren't naive enough to think they're going to shove their laws down an international organization's throat? If they object that strongly, try to have Facebook blocked and banned from Austria. That is and should be their only legal recourse -- you cannot have international organizations subject to the whims of every nation in the world that the internet reaches.

    Yes and no. What you are saying sounds dangerously close to claiming Facebook is completely above the law (of every country) and can do whatever the fuck it likes just because it is multinational. Unless we establish a planet wide government (which is a bad idea anyway), I don't think corporate immunity to prosecution in all jurisdictions is a good idea.

    BTW, companies are usually subject to the laws of countries that it chooses to do business in. IANAL, but Facebook could have just made "Country" a mandatory field when signing up and rejecting anyone who selects "Austria". Sure, you can get around that easily but it shows intent to not operate in that jurisdiction.

    Nor do you have any "rights" other than those set out in the terms of service, other than the right to refuse those terms and go elsewhere.

    Also, corporations are legal constructs, they exist because the government says they do and accepts paperwork applying to create one. This means that you can, and in many countries [other than the US perhaps], do have rights (typically called "consumer protection"), there are also privacy laws which may give you the right to demand a company delete everything they know about you and require explicit permission to sell to 3rd parties, etc. Most interactions with companies outside of a one-shot purchase will also use contract law which also includes protections against 'unfairness' and such. [Try including "you accept to allow us to enslave you first born and have them become our property" in a Terms of Service, no government outside of a hell-hole with accept the legitimacy of that and will either reject or penalise the company for including it]

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel