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Facebook faces German privacy probe

Non-member data under scrutiny

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Germany is suing Facebook for obtaining and saving data from people who do not use the social networking site.

Facebook faces an investigation for violations of Germany's strict privacy laws, which are among the toughest in the world. Johannes Caspar, head of Hamburg's Data Protection Authority, told the BBC: "We consider the saving of data from third parties, in this context, to be against data privacy laws."

The action follows complaints from members of the public who were not themselves members of the social network, but whose details were added to the site by friends. It is alleged that this information was saved by Facebook and used for marketing purposes. Though dominant elsewhere in the world, Facebook is only the fourth largest social networking site in Germany.

Facebook is no stranger to privacy probes. Complaints by privacy watchdogs in Canada earlier this year prompted changes to the site's policies. As well as privacy officials in Germany, Swiss authorities are also reportedly concerned about Facebook's use of third party data. ®

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