German Consumer Group Takes Aim At Data Sharing Via Facebook’s App Center

By David Cohen 

Facebook is facing more privacy issues in Germany, as the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) filed suit against the social network, claiming that applications available via its app center automatically access users’ data without consent.

IDG News Service reported that VZBV is claiming that third-party apps are gaining access to data such as information about friends, contact information, chat data, and the ability to post on users’ walls, all without consent.

VZBV Policy Officer Michaela Zinke told IDG News Service that when Facebook launched app center, it ceased the process of warning users that apps were sharing their information with third parties and allowing them to choose whether to allow this practice, adding, “I’m very confused why Facebook changed it.”

The group told IDG News Service that Facebook does provide small grey text that alerts users that their data will be provided to developers if they download apps, adding that German law only allows sharing data with third parties after receiving the “explicit and informed consent of the user.”

In a warning to Facebook in August, VZBV wrote:

Behind Facebook is a brutal business model. Particularly problematic is the fact that not only Facebook, but also the app providers, are accessing the data. This is exactly what many users do not realize.

A Facebook spokeswoman told IDG News Service via email that the social network is “currently looking into this,” and offered no further comment.

According to IDG News Service, VZBV expects the case to begin sometime during the summer of 2013.

Readers: How do you see the proceedings in Germany playing out?

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