By Aaron Kesel
A German court has ruled that Facebook is breaching data protection rules with privacy settings that “over-share” by default and by requiring its users to give their real names, a consumer rights organization said, AFP reported.
According to German law, one’s own personal information can only be stored and used by a company who has an agreement from the individual.
However, Berlin judges ruled Facebook leaves many of its settings that may be seen as “privacy invasive” switched on by default, failing to offer users an essential choice about how their data is used by the company, plaintiffs for the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) said.
“Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about this when users register,” VZBV legal expert Heiko Duenkel said.
The judges found that at least five different default privacy settings for Facebook were illegal, including sharing location data with its chat partners WhatsApp and Instagram or making user profiles available to external search engines, allowing anyone to search and find information on a person.
Facebook’s partners and subsidiaries collect data to enable hyper-targeted advertising on its users.
Additionally, the court ruled that eight paragraphs of Facebook’s terms of service were invalid, while one of the most significant requires people to use their real names on the social network which the court deemed was illegal.
The VZBV further stated that users were already paying to use Facebook—but with access to their data, instead of with cash.
Facebook could face fines of up to 250,000 euros ($306,000) per infraction if it does not fix its terms of conditions in Germany; however, Facebook said it would file an appeal to the ruling.
Then there is the fact that Facebook plans to unveil a new facial recognition technology across the site which will use artificial intelligence to scan uploaded photos to analyze and recognize faces based on images previously uploaded to the site. This wasn’t even ruled on by the court; I can just imagine what the court decision would be if they ruled against requiring users to use their real names and Facebook selling user data to third party websites.
Besides the huge privacy concerns of Facebook, the company is admitted to have deliberately manipulated its users’ emotions. So again we at Activist Post ask the question, “Why are we still using Facebook?
Image Credit: Anthony Freda Art