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Hamburg To Fine Facebook Over Facial Recognition Feature 195

An anonymous reader writes "Johannes Caspar, data protection commissioner for the German state of Hamburg, today declared he will soon fine Facebook over its use of biometric facial recognition technology. He said 'further negotiations are pointless' because the company had ignored a deadline he set for it to remove the feature. German authorities could fine Facebook up to €300,000 ($420,000)."
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Hamburg To Fine Facebook Over Facial Recognition Feature

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @06:37PM (#38017296)

    Germany actually has industry. It's like how if a homeless bum owes $1000, he's never going to pay it, whereas an upper-middle-class guy with a job can owe $300,000 on a mortgage and another $20,000 on a car and still have a future ahead of him.

  • Re:$420K? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday November 10, 2011 @06:39PM (#38017308)
    They would if it was PER OFFENSE.
  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Thursday November 10, 2011 @06:46PM (#38017362) Homepage

    So what will you whine about when Canada does the same thing? The privacy commissioner launched a similar investigation into this as well, though our fine could be in the several million dollar range.

  • SIlly goose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joehonkie ( 665142 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @06:47PM (#38017374) Homepage
    Silly goose, only the government can use facial recognition!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @06:58PM (#38017454)

    That works fine until this upper-middle-class guy's job is shipped over to some third-world shithole nation where the work is performed at a small fraction of the cost by somebody with an even smaller fraction of the skill doing a very horrible job at it. Now the upper-middle-class guy is $300,000 in debt and jobless. Since he was a manager for a few years, he no longer has any technical skills, and there are no management jobs available, so he's shit out of luck. Even if he took that job at Burger King, it'd still take him over 20 years to pay down that debt, and that's without spending money on anything else, and without taking into account the interest! Furthermore, thanks to "Free Trade" and their outsourcing blunder, the company he used to work for will go under in a few months, so he has no chance of ever going back there. He can't even start up his own business, because nobody is willing to lend him any more money given his current $300,000 debt load. Even though he's making absolutely no income, and the interest on his debt grows daily, he still needs to provide food and shelter for his family. He can't sell his house, because nobody else is financially sound enough to purchase it. Even worse, he can't sell his car because he lives in the suburbs where there is absolutely no public transit and the only way to get the basic necessities of life is to drive 20 km into the city. Welcome to America, circa 2011.

  • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by silanea ( 1241518 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @07:53PM (#38017840)
    The office that threatens to sue is not that of a politician but that of the data protection officer of the State (not city!) of Hamburg. This is not about politicians playing web sheriffs, this is about upholding the law. Some of our data protection laws are slightly overreaching and collide with practical IT needs - server operators who fall under German jurisdiction may not even store IP adresses of visitors, so the stock Apache logging settings violate our laws - but overall our personally identifiable information enjoys strong protection. Several state DPO's are taking initiative against things like Facebook's Like button being embedded into websites, and I clearly see this as a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @07:56PM (#38017864)

    This is why you rent a house, lease a car, and learn chinese. $300 on rosetta-stone and you can live like a king as a cab driver in shanghai!

  • Re:In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by psiclops ( 1011105 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @08:03PM (#38017912)

    Yes, I'm going to riot in the streets because some company based in another country has decided to stop doing business with people in my country.

    "what do we want", "Legal immunity for overseas corporations" "when do we want it" "NOW!"

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @08:10PM (#38017966)
    Mod parent up! You're absolutely right. Facebook is an American-based company, and German citizens have to voluntarily visit, taking them to the American site, then set up an account, and then supply them with information. That American company shouldn't then be hauled into a German court and ordered to restructure it's website to meet German standards. China doesn't like Facebook's model, so they block the website; they don't try to dictate how Facebook should run its business.
  • Wait a minute (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @08:38PM (#38018296) Homepage Journal

    You have it backwards. If German users want to use a US service, they can deal with how the service works as constituted in its home country. If the Germans don't want to use some service, they always have that option. This is legal fuckery, no more. Typical mommy government idiocy.

    I'm no fan of Facebook -- quite the opposite, in fact, I outright despise them -- but again, my answer is not to use Facebook, not to try to tell them what they can or cannot do.

  • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:03PM (#38018502)

    What you say would be true if FB didn't actually do business in Germany. The thing is, they do. They have offices in Hamburg, and they also do business with German advertisers, selling the information of German citizens. If they want to continue doing business in Germany, then they comply with German laws. Be grateful. This wouldn't be the first time some American company with no concept of consumer rights has tried to fuck over its customers, only to be thwarted by the laws of a country where they do business, and it certainly won't be the last. Perhaps you should be bitching about the state of privacy laws and individual rights in the US rather than about a sovereign nation enforcing its laws on companies seeking to do business in their jurisdiction.

    If they were strictly a US site that happened to be accessible from Germany (like, for example, Slashdot), then perhaps what you say would have merit. The thing is, they aren't, and it doesn't. This isn't really any different from the US enforcing its laws on foreign companies... case in point, Bell Canada has to comply with SarbOx rules, because some of their stock gets traded through the NYSE. This is a company that doesn't have any customers outside of Canada, that doesn't offer service outside of Canada (doesn't even offer service to all of Canada), that doesn't buy services from providers outside of Canada, and that is majority owned by Canadians. By all judgements, they have even less to do with the US than Facebook has to do with Germany, but because they trade on the NYSE, they have to comply with US trade rules, and the only way to not comply with rules like SarbOx would be to de-list from the NYSE. And yet nobody in the US is bitching about that, or the thousands of other examples of foreign companies that have to comply with US laws to do business in the states. Hypocrisy much?

  • Re:Wait a minute (Score:4, Insightful)

    by psiclops ( 1011105 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:20AM (#38020284)

    That's a mistake that can be easily rectified.

    "Whoops i accidentally opened an office in Hamburg, registered a German TLD and started doing business overseas " yes i can see the mistake now.

    Facebook can, and hopefully will, remove their sub-agency from your country.

    yes we are in agreeance. they can stop doing business in Germany if they wish to not comply with German laws. we are also in agreeance that it would be a good thing if they did stop doing business in Germany.

    It isn't relevant to the issue at hand, which is FB is an American operation, not a German one.

    How is the fact that they do business in Germany not-relevant to the fact that they do not wish to comply with German laws???

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."