German Court: Companies With Pages Not Responsible For What Facebook Does With User Data

A November 2011 order by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ULD) for the state of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany that ordered companies to deactivate their Facebook pages was overturned Wednesday by the Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein, IDG News Service reported.

GermanyFlag2A November 2011 order by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ULD) for the state of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany that ordered companies to deactivate their Facebook pages was overturned Wednesday by the Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein, IDG News Service reported.

In its 2011 order, the ULD stated that Facebook violated Germany’s data-protection laws by collecting users’ personal data from pages and using those data for its own purposes, adding that companies with pages were partially responsible, according to IDG News Service.

On Wednesday, the court ruled that companies with Facebook pages are not legally responsible for the way the social network processes data from users who visit those pages, saying:

According to the Federal Data Protection Act, the plaintiffs are not responsible because they neither have access to the data on a legal nor on a factual basis.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Marcus Schween, central coordinator for legal affairs at the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Schleswig-Holstein, said, as reported by IDG News Service:

Data protection is of considerable importance for the economy of Schleswig-Holstein, but data protection must also leave room for innovations and be adapted for the current challenges. This case shows that the data-protection issue is so important that it should not be left solely to the data-protection officer.

ULD Commissioner Thilo Weichert has tangled with Facebook before, unsuccessfully attempting earlier this year to abolish the social network’s policy of requiring users to sign up under their real names.

Readers: What do you think of the court’s ruling on the issue of Facebook pages and companies’ responsibilities?

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