Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) seems to have trouble getting out of its own way when it comes to privacy issues among users in Europe. Now, a consumer group in Germany is threatening to sue if the social-networking company does not provide a consent form or users who access the App Center on the Web site.
This new imbroglio follows in close company with another privacy issue involving facial recognition technology by Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:F), where Hamburg privacy czar Johannes Caspar decided to look further int that case. And earlier this year, a court in Berlin ordered Facebook to remove user’s photos from advertisements without getting explicit consent to use them. Oh, and don’t forget this particular consumer group, Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VZBV) – easy for us to say – picked on Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) before because of its Friend Finder service.
This latest case involves the Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) App Center. Facebook apps – like most that users find on any other platform – gathers some user information from those who use the apps. However, VZBV claims that the grey “fine print” above the button to select the app is “non-exhaustive” in listing the types of user information gathered, and because Facebook does not explicitly ask for consent from users to gather the information, it is breaking European privacy laws. The group is giving Facebook until next Tuesday, September 4, to come in compliance or face a lawsuit. Facebook says it has learned of the issue but has no comment about the situation at this point.
Facebook has already been a tough play for investors, and those like billionaire George Soros of Soros Fund Management – who got in recently – will be interested to see Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) become a big buy opportunity.
How much do Germans love their privacy? Their complaints forced Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) to stop photographing street scenes for their mapping software programs. Germany has been known to take a very strict interpretation of European privacy laws.