Feeds

Hamburg loses rag with Facebook, threatens to sue

CURRENT Euro data protection law unlikely to agree

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Hamburg's data protection authority has reportedly given up continuing its dialogue with Facebook and is preparing to sue the company over its use of facial recognition technology.

That might be tricky for the agency, however, given that the long-awaited overhaul to 1995's European data protection law has been delayed until early next year.

As European Commissioner Viviane Reding told this reporter in June, the data protection directive was supposed to arrive this autumn.

In the meantime, Facebook – on a European level – isn't currently breaching data protection law when it makes stealth tweaks to its technology without first informing its users of the change.

The directive should help address that loophole.

"You cannot hide anymore by saying 'my server is in Honolulu and my other server is in Kiev and...' I don't care," the commissioner told us in the summer.

"The law is for everyone who does business on the territory of Europe, whatever the origin of the business might be. So you cannot hide anymore by saying ‘I do not have my headquarters in Europe’."

Clearly, the Hamburg DPA has lost its patience with the dominant social network, hence the threat to sue the company.

"Facebook has introduced this [facial recognition] feature in Europe, without informing the user and without obtaining the required consent. Unequivocal consent of the parties is required by both European and national data protection law," said the DPA, courtesy of a translation from Deutsche Welle.

Reding might want to point out to the Hamburg DPA that its statement is slightly premature.

Facebook's German spokeswoman Tina Kulow gave the The Register this statement:

"We believe that any legal action is completely unnecessary. Tag Suggest feature on Facebook is fully compliant with EU data protection laws. On top of that we have given comprehensive notice and education to our users about Tag Suggest and we provide very simple tools for people to opt out if they do not want to use this feature," she said.

"We have considered carefully different options for making people even more aware of our privacy policies and are disappointed that the Hamburg DPA has not accepted these."

There's also the question of whether the 27-bloc states that make up the EU will respond positively to Reding's "Right to be forgotten" pledge that is loaded into the data protection law directive.

If the recent apathetic reaction of the Eurozone to Brussels' cookie privacy law in May this year is anything to go by, then Reding could yet have a tough time on her hands convincing individual countries to transpose the DP directive into national legislation. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
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.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.