German court finds fault with Facebook's default privacy settings

German court finds fault with Facebook's default privacy settings
From TechCrunch - February 13, 2018

A court in Germany has ruled that Facebooks default privacy settings and some of its terms and conditions breached local laws. The Berlin court passed judgement late last month but the verdict was only made public this week.

The legal challenge, which dates back to 2015, was filed by a local consumer rights association, the vzbv. Itsuccessfully argued Facebooks default privacy settings breach local consent rules by not providing clear enough information for the company to gather informed consent from users when they agreed to its T&Cs.

Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about this when users register, said Heiko Dnkel, litigation policy officer at vzbv, in a statement. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.

Pre-formulated declarations of consent are clearly on borrowed time in the European Union, as the bloc will shortly have an updated data protection frameworkGDPRwhich strengthens and clarifies the rules around obtaining consent to process personal data.

And pre-ticked consent boxes buried at the end of lengthy, opaque and vague T&Cs will not pass muster under the new standard. So the regional courts finding on that aligns with wider incoming personal data processing consent standards that will be enforced across the entire EU from this May.

The vzbv also successfully challenged Facebooks real names policywhich the Berlin regional court agreed was unlawful. This was partly down to local laws, with the German Telemedia Act requiring providers of online services to allow users to use services anonymously.

But also again on consent grounds; vzbv said the court took the view that Facebooks requirement for users to use their real names was a covert way of obtaining their consent to the use of this datawhich it asserts was reason enough to rule it unlawful.

The group also sought to argue that Facebooks claim that its service is free and always will be is misleading, on the grounds that consumers are paying with their data.

However the court dismissed that argument.


Continue reading at TechCrunch »