Facebook Found Guilty

PUBLISHED: 12:48 AM 15 Feb 2018

German Court Rules Against Facebook, Use Of Personal Data Illegal

They decided that the company did not get proper consent from users.

According to new reports, a German court recently ruled that Facebook’s use of personal information is completely illegal.

Mark Zuckerberg’s social media network is in deep trouble. According to new reports, a German court recently ruled that Facebook’s use of personal information is completely illegal. Naturally, this seems to represent a significant setback for this network, considering that this has always been one of its most common activities.

According to Reuters, the German court made this move as the tech giant didn’t sufficiently secure consent from users. The Federation of German Consumer Organizations –also known as the VZVB- claimed that the network’s terms of service and its default user settings breached the consumer law. Regarding this issue, the litigation officer at VZVB, Heko Duenkel, said that Facebook not only hides “default settings” that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center but also refuses to provide enough information about it when users register.

On its part, the social media network stated that they had made significant changes to their terms of service and data protection guidelines shortly after the case was brought against them three years ago.

Obviously, the social media network said it would appeal, despite the fact that several aspects of the court judgment had clearly been in its favor.

In addition, Facebook promised to appeal the ruling, saying that the tech company is working really hard to ensure that its guidelines are crystal clear and easy to understand for every single user. Also, it promised to ensure that the services offered to users are in full accordance with the law.

Apparently,  Facebook also plans to update its terms of service and data protection guidelines in order to comply with the new rules introduced by the European Union that are set to take effect in just five months.

In addition to the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has also taken issue with Mark Zuckerberg’s company and has begun its own investigation into the platform.

Apparently, the FCO pointed out that back in December, they objected to the method that this company uses to access third-party data when a certain account is registered on the site.

According to tech experts, this social media network uses to collect information from both Instagram and WhatsApp when a new user registers.

As everyone knows, Mark Zuckerberg decided to own these two other companies a couple of years ago, making him one of the most powerful figures in Silicon Valley and the tech world.

In fact, Zuckerberg also tried to buy Snapchat a couple of years ago, but its co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel refused to sell the company. While Zuckerberg offered thousands of millions to buy Snapchat, Spiegel took this surprising step.

According to several reports, the FCO also took issue with a particular element of the network’s mobile app, which automatically showed users location to other users on the app.

Another issue that the FCO had was an option in user privacy setting that allowed search engines to show user profiles in search results

Regarding the recent ruling on this social media network, the VZVB explained that the judges ruled that all five of the default settings on the tech company that they previously completed are invalid.

Also, this group confirmed that several of the network’s other terms of use were considered illegal. Naturally, this definitely seems like a significant problem for Zuckerberg, considering that this situation could harm Facebook’s position in such an important market.

As several media outlets reported, the verdict –which was executed from a Berlin regional court- comes as some of the most powerful tech companies face increasing scrutiny in this country over its handling of sensitive personal information.

Over the last few years, the relationship between Facebook and the German government has been characterized by the way Chancellor Angela Merkel has tried to influence some elements of the platform.

One of the most famous moments occurred back in 2015 when she was caught in a hot mic confronting Mark Zuckerberg over what she described as “anti-immigration” posts.

Naturally, this happened in a moment where the country’s open border policies were at its peak, with thousands of Muslim immigrants and refugees arriving in several German cities.

Considering that her government has played a major role in the intensification of the European migrant crisis, Merkel showed her most authoritarian side by pressing Zuckerberg to eliminate certain posts that would harm her image in Germany and Europe.