German court: Facebook privacy settings illegal

Facebook said it plans to appeal a ruling by a Berlin court, which said the social media's default privacy settings violate German consumer protection laws. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Feb. 13 (UPI) — A German court ruled Facebook’s default privacy settings violate consumer protection laws, court documents released Monday indicate.

The ruling said Facebook didn’t inform users enough about how their personal data would be collected and used upon signing up for the social media service. Under privacy settings, some privacy settings — like location service — were pre-selected on new accounts.

VZBV, a German privacy advocacy group that filed the lawsuit against Facebook, said that without enough information about those settings, users couldn’t provide meaningful consent.

“Facebook hides data protection-unfriendly presets in its privacy center, without sufficiently informing it during registration,” Heiko Dünkel, legal officer at VZBV, said. “That’s not enough for informed consent.”

Facebook issued a statement to Britain’s The Guardian saying it would appeal the ruling.

“We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,” the statement said.

The Berlin court made the ruling in January, but didn’t publicly release the findings until Monday.


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