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German authorities are reported to be working on a way to block the Facebook ‘like’ button due to allegations of data harvesting by the social media giant. The Data Protection Commissioner’s Office in the German federal state of Schlswig-Holstein has demanded that “all institutions” remove social plug-ins such as the ‘like’ button. The privacy watchdog reckons that Facebook is contravening German and indeed Europe-wide rules by using information garnered from users  is sold to advertisers.

“Facebook builds a broad individual and for members even a personalised profile,” a statement read. “Such a profiling infringes German and European data protection law.” The government accuses Facebook of not taking an adequate effort in letting its users know ad firms will be able to take a peek at pages that have been ‘liked’.  “There is no sufficient information of users and there is no choice; the wording in the conditions of use and privacy statements of Facebook does not nearly meet the legal requirements relevant for compliance of legal notice, privacy consent and general terms of use.”

The watchdog says that it will take strict action against firms and sites that do not remove the Facebook ‘Like’ button. This could mean formal complaints for public entities, or fines for private companies. The organisation has been on Facebook’s back over its use of web analytics for some time now, and has been working on a “continuing privacy impact analysis” of the US based data harvesting giant. The statement claims it’s possible for Facebook to modify its behaviour to fall into line with other social media 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.”

It’s not the first time that Germany has been in news over privacy concerns. Google previously had to deal with German authorities over its StreetView cars.

[Techeye]

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