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Facebook On Collision Course With New EU Privacy Laws 195

An anonymous reader writes "Facebook and other U.S. internet companies are faced with a new EU data protection regime, the Christian Science Monitor reports. U.S. concepts of free expression and commerce will battle European support for privacy and state legislation. 'Companies must understand that if they want access to 500 million consumers in the EU, then they have to comply. This is not an option,' said a spokesman for the EU Justice Commissioner."
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Facebook On Collision Course With New EU Privacy Laws

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  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barbara, not Barbie ( 721478 ) <`barbara.hudson' `at' `'> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @03:31AM (#38924985) Journal
    Facebook (and other operators, such as google) need to understand that they don't have a "right" to sell any and all information they can gather. If they can't meet the rules, someone else will be happy to do so and take their users away from them. That's what competition is about.
  • Re:It's about time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @03:33AM (#38924995)

    and consumers have to understand that not everything is for free and maybe free sites should start charging for usage

  • regime ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @03:49AM (#38925029)

    ... U.S. internet companies are faced with a new EU data protection "regime" ...

    newspeak ? the word "regime" should be used at EU Govts. ?

    mmaaaa... EU are axis of evil "regimes", they do not let our companies do douchebaggery which is our way of life !!! they want accountability... !!! how dare they !!!

  • by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @03:59AM (#38925061)

    ...Facebook's first priority is no longer its users' privacy (if it ever had been). Its first priority now is making money from its shareholders. From advertising space to per-click charges for using its authentication protocols and other bits of code, Facebook has other avenues of revenue than selling user data. Having close on a billion accounts live right now is a bonus for Facebook, as it shows a more or less loyal customer base for any other company that seeks a captive target.

    Hence, deeply personal data you might find on FB that might find its way into some other company's database or metric for them to use to tailor their product to a target consumer, is unlikely to be uniquely identifiable - it's infinitely more likely to be statistical in nature. The single most likely candidates for individual monitoring would be those already on watch lists or those who trip warning triggers (yes, there is tech out there to monitor even "closed" or spiderproofed websites: that the police in the UK can access locked down Facebook accounts (seen it) as though the pages were Wayback mirrored is evidence enough of that).

  • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:02AM (#38925071)

    that may be but users should not have to dig through mountains of legaleze to understand that the service is offered to them ONLY because they agree to let complete strangers comprehensively know every last interaction they make with the service, potentially exposing to those people more about their lives than even the user knows about themselves.

    It's not just counting clicks, it's building an entire psychology about each person, beyond reasonable survey-like data gathering. *THAT* little detail is what the users should be very weary of.

  • by Barbara, not Barbie ( 721478 ) <`barbara.hudson' `at' `'> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:11AM (#38925103) Journal
    It's not just statistical data - all those "Like" buttons - when any page with a "Like" button is displayed, it makes a call to facebooks' servers, sending your unique id to facebook to let them know you've seen that page. So over time, facebook develops a rather complete profile of your browsing habits. And no, you don't have to be logged in for this to work.

    It's stuff like this that advertisers - and anyone else with "preferential access" (police, etc.) get. Think of it - others have a more complete history of your browsing habits than you do. Facebook is the new cyber-stalker.

  • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:16AM (#38925115) Homepage

    Corporations will still want to build privacy invasive data bases and mine that information. Privacy laws means that not matter what type of business you, when you hold other peoples data you will have to adhere to those laws and when you are caught out you will be subject to prosecution.

    Facebook has become a glaring example of privacy invasion. Facebook will also have to start thinking about it's users invading the privacy of other users and posting information that contravenes privacy laws.

  • by pacc ( 163090 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:44AM (#38925231) Homepage

    "It's your data" so if you want us to delete your GPS locations
    crossreferenced with your search habits you will have to give
    up your gmail.

    All in the new simplified agreement that covers everything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:47AM (#38925239)

    Not to mention the strange use of the words "regime" and "battle" and the Orwellian language of the article. But what did we expect from the Christian Science Monitor? While on the one hand winning multiple Pulitzers, and being fairly left-right neutral, it is well known for its corporate bias. The EU data protection laws won't harm freedom of expression as defined in the First Amendment, but will prevent companies from making a profit of selling private user data. Hence, the CSM wants to agitate against that, but because of its readership it cannot do so by simply stating this. The result is this article.

  • by peppepz ( 1311345 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:18AM (#38925355)
    Is it OK to you for any entity (government, facebook, google) to have a file about you containing:
    - your name
    - your phone number, and the names and phone numbers of all your contacts
    - your web history
    - your web search history
    - your past and current email
    - your gps position, its history, and the places you "starred"
    - the pictures you take with your phone
    - your wifi passwords
    - the music you bought online
    - the books you read online
    - your investments portfolio
    - the office documents you're working on
    - everything you "liked" on the web, be it apps, music, cuisine or politics
    under just the promise that they'll never be doing anything bad with that data, except "targeted advertising"?

    Even their ability to sell some of that data, purged of personal identifications, is "bad" enough for me. If advertisers get to know where you work and what you like, that's enough to understand who you are in many cases.

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:28AM (#38925381)

    If advertisers get to know where you work and what you like, that's enough to understand who you are in many cases.

    Which is bad because then they'd be able to try to sell you stuff you might actually want, rather than a bunch of stupid crap you don't care about? I just don't see it.

    As far as your list goes, I have no illusions that government legislation can protect any information I would voluntarily choose to share. Best case scenario: corporations store and trade the information secretly. So, if you have something and you want to keep it private, the only way to do that is to keep it to yourself. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.

  • Re:regime ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:32AM (#38925401)
    newspeak ?

    Nothing but newspeak!
    "U.S. concepts of free expression and commerce will battle European support for privacy and state legislation."
    I think what the summary is trying to say that company coming from corporation-controlled US will suddenly encounter an actual user-privacy law. There is nothing about free expression (though something about commerce) in selling user's data to everyone who is willing to buy it. Even if corporations are (apparently) people, selling their user's data is not free expression of speech.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:36AM (#38925413)
    Don'tya just love it when somebody mods you "redundant" because you are later in the sequence he read, but actually made the first such comment (as clearly shown by the timestamp)?

    Sometimes, I get a real charge out of the quality of "conversation" on Slashdot. Other times, like now, I am reminded that while it might be better than average, there are still some real bozos here. (squeak, squeak)
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:56AM (#38925469)

    "Multinational means multi-jurisdictional too, something to do with having your cake and eating it." [spelling corrected]

    Actually, that is not the case at all. In a very real sense (and completely aside from the whole "cloud computing" hype), the Internet can be considered to be an information resource that is simply "out there", for anybody who wants to to visit.

    It is not "intrusive" in any way. If countries want to block it, they have both the facilities and ability to block it.

    Instead, what they have done is to try to force EVERYTHING on the internet to be the "lowest common denominator", and show only content that is acceptable to everybody, in the entire world. And to say that is unrealistic is probably the understatement of the century.

    And it's also complete bullshit. You are in charge of your own home, and you can decide what you want your family to watch on TV, or see on the Internet, or whatever. If you are a country, you are free to block whatever content you want into your own country, at least in the sense of what citizens are willing to put up with.

    But... you DO NOT have the right to force others to use technologies for censorship, or ANYTHING of that sort. If you want to censor, you are free to do so. But stop putting the onus on others simply because YOU are some kind of religious extremist or anal-retentive of some other sort.

  • by cardpuncher ( 713057 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:04AM (#38925487)

    In the old world of business, the service provider received something of direct value in exchange for the service and the customer could reasonably expect to end the contract and stop paying. In the new model, the customer has something of indirect value irreversibly taken away (privacy) there's no reasonable prospect of getting it back even if they do agree to give up the service at a later date. Privacy is like virginity - when it's gone, it's gone.

  • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashdyke ( 873156 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:36AM (#38925615) Homepage
    It is not quite that simple. If Joe uploads a photo, and tags a face as belonging to you, and then Mary uploads a photo with a face that matches and also says it belongs to you, it does not take facebook very long to know what you look like, and who you might know even though you do not have a facebook account.
  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:39AM (#38925631) Homepage Journal

    U.S. concepts of free expression and commerce...

    Should read

    U.S. concepts of freedom to be monitored, tracked, analyzed, and advertised to...

    The EU legislation has NOTHING to do with freedom of speech. The summary is busy trying to paint a red herring argument where there is none, just to stir up good old "Proud American" sentiment.

  • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @07:13AM (#38925769)

    The site belongs to facebook. It is hosted in the US.

    Facebook International HQ is in Dublin, Ireland - which is part of the E.U. They are also currently building a massive data center in Sweden [] which will handle all traffic from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

    This idea of trying to regulate what people do with the devices they own is simply laughable.

    Welcome to the real world, where there are regulations governing businesses, and regulations that cover many of the devices that businesses use. You may also want to educate yourself regarding some of the reasons that Europeans generally support pro-privacy and anti-data-collection laws. [] You may be surprised to learn that it was a trade union [] that rose up against the communists and fought for the first free democratic elections in eastern Europe.

  • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @07:16AM (#38925781)
    Yes, but Facebook is a European company, and it does business in Europe. Either one of those would make it liable to E.U. jurisdiction.
  • Re:regime ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dna_(c)(tm)(r) ( 618003 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @07:21AM (#38925813)

    European parliament is elected, the commission (government) isn't elected directly, it is appointed by the parliament. Still, we have a choice of more than two parties.

    And yes, everybody is "forced" to use Facebook. Most people get tagged on photos sooner or later, even if they don't have an account. FB finds out information you might not be willing to release: birthday, phone numbers, where you live, who your friends are, what your password for your mail account is... if a friend releases that information about you, it doesn't even require an intervention, decision on your part.

  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @08:30AM (#38926083)

    Freedom of expression as defined in the First Amendment is irrelevant in Europe. It wouldn't matter if EU data protection laws violated that amendment. At the end of the day, US companies have to decide if they want access to the market in the EU area or not.

  • Re:regime ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Muros ( 1167213 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @10:00AM (#38926421)
    I liked the bit of the article where it equated this legislation with censorship. "There is potential for radical disruption of the way users experience the Internet in the EU. This would transform Facebook and Google into censors-in-chief." The big lie here, of course, is saying that it is making censors of Google and Facebook. It is merely telling companies to allow people to censor themselves.

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