Friday, July 9, 2010

Facebook in Legal Soup Over Privacy Concerns

German officials have filed a lawsuit against Facebook for accessing and retaining personal data of those who don't use the site. Facebook can face fines of tens of thousands of euros under privacy laws. The popular social networking site has confirmed receiving a notice regarding lawsuit.

"We consider the saving of data from third parties, in this context, to be against data privacy laws," said Johannes Caspar, head of Hamburg's Data Protection Authority.

He said he had received a lot of complaints from people who had not registered on Facebook, but whose details had been added to the site by friends and relatives. He accused Facebook of saving personal information of non-members without their approval, to be used for marketing purposes.

Switzerland is also reported to be worried about the use of third-party data. Facebook has to reply to the legal complaint latest by august 11.

The California-based company told the BBC in an email that it was "currently reviewing (the complaint) and will readily respond to it within the given time frame".

"Millions of Germans come to Facebook each day to find their friends, share information with them and connect to the world around them," wrote spokesman Stefano Hessel.

Facebook has nearly 500 million users worldwide but according to figures by ComScore is only the fourth biggest social network in Germany.

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