Germany court rules for Facebook in privacy dispute

[JURIST] A German court on Thursday ruled [press release, in German] for Facebook [corporate website] in a challenge over the social networking website's policy requiring users to register with their real names. The Independent Center for Privacy Protection [advocacy website], known in Germany as the ULD, brought the suit against the Palo Alto, California-based company alleging violation [press release] of German data protection laws in place to protect the fundamental right to freedom of expression on the Internet. The Administrative Court of the State of Schleswig-Holstein [official website] held that the ULD wrongly based [PCWorld report] its challenge on German law, stating that Facebook's handling of marketing and acquisition in Germany prevented the court from ruling on its data and personal information processing, an activity that is handled at the company's offices in Dublin, Ireland. According to the state regulator, the ULD is expected to appeal [Bloomberg report] the decision.

Facebook has faced numerous legal challenges in its near decade-long history. Aside from the company's major settlements with Eduardo Saverin and the Winklevoss twins, privacy advocacy groups Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy [advocacy websites] urged [JURIST report] CEO Mark Zuckerberg in November to withdraw privacy changes, claiming that the alterations may violate a settlement [JURIST report] with the Federal Trade Commission [official website]. In August German data privacy authorities reopened [JURIST report] an investigation into Facebook's facial recognition software, taking issue with the website's ability to automatically recognize individuals' facial features in pictures.

 

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