Facebook Inc (FB): Court rules social network must comply with German data protection laws

Posted Feb 18, 2014

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been ordered to comply with German data protection laws, according to the Higher Court of Berlin. The Higher Court ruled in the decision, which directly contradicted an earlier decision by another court.

A Berlin court confirmed in a 2012 verdict that the Facebook Friend Finder violated German law because it was unclear to users that they imported their entire address book when using the social network. The court confirmed several clauses of Facebook’s privacy policy and terms of service violates German law.

This case was brought by The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV). The VZBV organiization was pleased with the decision that Facebook has to comply with German data protection laws. The Higher Court of Berlin’s verdict is in opposition to a verdict of the Administrative Court of Appeals of the State of Schleswig-Holstein.

This court ruled in April of last year that Irish data protection rules should apply to Facebook, but not German data protection law. They said that Irish law should apply because Facebook processes German user data at their European headquarters in Ireland. Facebook’s German subsidiary acts exclusively for marketing and sales.

The Higher Court of Berlin disagreed and decided that Facebook’s data processing is actually handle in the U.S. by the parent company rather than the Irish subsidiary. Since Facebook U.S. is outside of the E.U., German data protection laws can be applied.

?The verdict is a milestone for data protection in the Facebook era,? stated the VZBV.

It is unknown which court decision will be decided because the Higher Court of Berlin and Administrative Court of Appeals of the State of Schleswig-Holstein are considered equal. Facebook may formally object to the Higher Court of Berlin ruling within a month. Facebook is reviewing the decision right now.

[Source: PCW]