Feeds

German privacy watchdogs agree social networking ground rules

Keep users informed about data use

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Social networking sites are not permitted to store information about people's use of the sites beyond the duration of a particular session, according to a panel of Germany's data protection officials.

Companies behind social networks such as MySpace and Facebook must also tell users what happens to any data that is collected and tell them how they can influence the use of that data.

The principles were laid down by the German Düsseldorfer Kreis (GDK), a panel of all the German data protection authorities. They laid down eight principles of operation for social networking sites to keep them in line with data protection law, according to the Data Protection Review operated by the data protection agency of Madrid.

The principles covered what data can be collected under which circumstances, and what it can then be used for.

One principle said that the sites could only store personal information that was not a part of the user's actual social networking profile beyond the end of a session if it needed it for billing purposes. Since most social networks are free that is unlikely to be a common situation.

The principles also said that any information that is gathered can only be used for marketing if the user has provided consent for that to happen.

The rules also made it clear to social network operators that they could not use laws derived from the Data Retention Directive to justify keeping information. The GDK said that there is no legal foundation for storing data unless there is a specific law that says so.

The application of the Directive to online services has previously been the subject of debate between privacy regulators and Google. The search giant had claimed that it had to keep logs of search queries because it was required to by the Directive.

The Directive tells countries to pass laws ordering telecoms companies to keep records of user activity for between six and 24 months in case the information is useful in criminal prosecutions.

Privacy regulators said that the Directive only applied to telecoms service providers and not to companies which provide content online.

Google conceded in September of this year that its keeping of data was not mandated by the Directive, as it had previously argued.

The GDK's principles also include instructions to social networking operators to adequately protect private information with technical security measures and to set the standard privacy settings so that they protect users' privacy as efficiently as possible.

The GDK also said that social networking companies must let users delete their profile.

The GDK is an informal grouping of the regulators who monitor data protection in the private sector in Germany.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.