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August 28, 2012

Facebook under fire by German watchdog

A German consumer watchgroup announced that Facebook’s App Centre was releasing user data to third parties without receiving user consent.

By Tineka Smith

Facebook App Centre

According to Reuters, Germany’s largest consumer lobby group has given a September 4 deadline for the network to fix the alleged problem or they will seek legal action.

Gathering personal information without a user’s consent is a violation of Germany’s Telemedia Act, which states that a company may only gather and distribute a user’s information if "the recipient has given approval."

The group says the Facebook practice of assuming users give their consent when using the App centre "must come to an end."
This is the first time Facebook has been under scrutiny by German Data protection officials.

Earlier this month Hamburg’s data protection commissioner reopened its investigation of Facebook’s facial recognition technology under fears the network was building a large biometric database of its members.

"When you or a friend upload new photos, we use face recognition software — similar to that found in many photo editing tools — to match your new photos to other photos you’re tagged in," Facebook had said in a blog post. "We group similar photos together and, whenever possible, suggest the name of the friend in the photos."

Facebook is also under investigation by the Irish data protection authority to make sure the social network complies with European and Irish data protection laws. A decision will be made in October to determine if Facebook will face legal consequences under European privacy laws.

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