North German State bans websites from using Facebook ‘Like’ plug-in

german-flagThe northernmost German State of Schleswig-Holstein says they’re banning Facebook. All institutions are being told to shut down Facebook fan pages and to remove the ‘Like’ plug-in from their websites by the end of next month.

According to a statement from Schleswig-Holstein’s Data Protection Commissioner’s Office (Independent Centre for Privacy Protection-ULD), these Facebook features are supposedly in violation of the German Telemdia ACT (TMG) and the country’s Federal Data Protection Act. The ULD says they have a problem with German website traffic data being sent over to the USA.

The main claim is that anyone who uses a plug-in will be tracked by Facebook for two years. The State’s office says that this profiling of users without choice infringes on Europe’s data protection law. Facebook conditions of use and privacy statements supposedly fall short of the Germany’s legal requirements regarding notice and privacy consent.

The State is quite serious about this matter as they are giving website owners only until the end of September this year to comply. Any stragglers can look forward to fines of up to 50,000 euros.

The head of the ULD Thilo Wlike buttoneichert, said, “Our current call is only the beginning of a continuing privacy impact analysis of Facebook applications…Nobody should claim that there are no alternatives; there are European and other social media available that take the protection of privacy rights of Internet users far more serious.”

Jeff Jarvis points out on buzzmachine that Facebook does harvest IP information, but all this technical data is deleted within the normal industry standard of 90 days. Jarvis further notes that Facebook’s European spokesman, Stefano Hesse, has had no complaints from Weichert’s Hamburg conterpart as far as privacy issues.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has run afoul of German privacy laws. Earlier this month Facebook was asked to stop running facial recognition on German users without consent.

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