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Hamburg watchdog pokes 'suspicious' cookies

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Facebook has once again been forced to defend its use of cookies after a German watchdog said it was "suspicious" that the dominant social network was creating tracking profiles of its users without seeking their consent to do so.

The company denied it was slurping such data from its stalkerbase as claimed by the Hamburg data protection authority (DPA).

"Facebook does not track users across the web," it said in a statement. "Instead, we use cookies on social plugins to personalise content (e.g. Show you what your friends liked), to help maintain and improve what we do (e.g. Measure click-through rate), or for safety and security (e.g. Keeping underage kids from trying to signup with a different age).

"No information we receive when you see a social plugins is used to target ads, we delete or anonymise this information within 90 days, and we never sell your information."

On the thorny topic of logged-out cookies, Facebook said it deleted the files when a user signed out of the site.

"We do not receive personally identifiable cookie information when logged-out users browse the web," the firm said.

The Hamburg DPA has previously warned Facebook that it would be fined by the watchdog if the company failed to delete the "biometric data" it harvested from its facial recognition tech.

The Register understands that Facebook has offered to provide the DPA with a technical explanation of how it uses cookies. For its part, the company considers any conclusion reached by the Hamburg watchdog before proper consultation with Facebook to be "incomplete". ®

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