Facebook Joins 20 Others Taking France To Court

Facebook and 20 other companies are filing a complaint to France's highest court challenging a decree requiring them to retain web users' personal data for a year.

Facebook and 20 other companies are filing a complaint to France’s highest court challenging a decree requiring them to retain web users’ personal data for a year.

No, you didn’t misread that: The decree published barely a month ago requires companies to retain user data for a year, according to AFP.

This rule requires all websites engaged in commerce, along with music or video sharing destinations and even email services, to keep a a set of data about customers for possible subpoena by police or officials of tax, customs, or social security authorities.

The data to be archived includes users’ full names, possible pseudonyms, postal addresses, email, telephone numbers, passwords and what amounts to the answers to security questions created for account recovery and modification.

“Several elements are problematic,” the head of the French Association of Internet Community Services, Benoit Tabaka, told reporters including AFP this morning. “For instance, there was no consultation with the European Commission. This is a shocking measure, this obligation to keep passwords and hand them over to police services.”

Thus Internet companies that do business in France are indeed filing a complaint about this new rule. The complaining parties include Google and eBay in addition to Facebook.

France’s rule seems like an inversion of the trend in privacy policy happening everywhere else in the world. Most other governments, including the U.S., want web companies to disclose the use of data to consumers and offer the ability to opt-out of data collection.

Readers, what do you think about France’s decree and the likelihood that it might get overturned in court?