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Facebook, Google et al grapple with France in privacy row

Complaint to hit State Council tomorrow

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Facebook, Google and around 20 other internet firms are reportedly set to file a complaint against a decree issued by France's State Council that requires the companies to retain web surfers' personal data for 12 months.

According to the AFP, a case is being brought by the French Association of Internet Community Services (ASIC) on behalf of the aforementioned web outfits as well as other big players that operate in France, such as Dailymotion and eBay.

"The ASIC is appealing at the State Council [the highest judicial body in France] against the decree to keep connection data," said the group's boss Benoit Tabaka.

Early last month the decree was published, in which the websites of ecommerce, video-sharing and online email services companies were obliged to keep a battery of data on their users, reports the AFP.

The personal details include a customer's full name, postal address, telephone number, pseudonyms and passwords as well as the information provided to identify or modify a given user's data.

"Several elements are problematic. For instance, there was no consultation with the European Commission," said Tabaka, whose organisation plans to lodge its complaint with the State Council tomorrow.

"This is a shocking measure, this obligation to keep passwords and hand them over to police services."

Under the requirement, internet companies are expected to retain the data for a year. During this period, officials including the police authorities and the fraud office may access the data on demand. ®

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