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Facebook broke German privacy laws, court rules

From BBC - February 12, 2018

Privacy rights campaigners are claiming victory over Facebook in a German legal battle.

It follows a regional court ruling that found some of the social network's data consent policies to be invalid.

The Vzbv consumer group successfully argued that five of the app's services were switched on by default, with the relevant privacy settings "hidden".

Facebook intends to appeal, but believes that planned changes to the app will ensure it obeys the law.

Vzbv also plans to appeal because some of its other allegations were rejected.

These included a claim that it was misleading for Facebook to describe its service as being "free" because users effectively paid by sharing information about themselves.

Privacy law change

The judgement was issued by Berlin Regional Court on 16 January, but has only just been publicised by Vzbv.

The consumer group's case was based on the country's Federal Data Protection Act, which says that in order to gain consent, tech firms must be clear about the nature, scope and purpose of the way they use customers' data.

The court agreed that Facebook had not done enough to alert people to the fact that it had pre-ticked several privacy settings.

These included an option to share their location with the person they were chatting to, and agreement that Google and other sites could show links to their profiles in search results.

In addition, the court ruled that a requirement that users provide their real names was unlawful.

New law imminent

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