German Officials Outlaw Facebook 'Like' Button
from the are-you-kidding-me? dept
We’ve talked a few times in the past about ridiculous German laws that seriously restrict online offerings, but the latest may be the most ridiculous of all. Apparently a German “data protection” official has ruled that Facebook’s “like” button violates privacy laws in the country.
Thilo Weichert, who works for the data protection centre of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, said the social network?s application allowing internet users to express their appreciation of something online, illegally cobbled together a profile of their web habits.
?Facebook can trace every click on a website, how long I?m on it, what I?m interested in,? he said. According to Weichert, all the information was sent to the US company even if someone was not a Facebook member.
Saying this contravened both German and EU privacy laws, Weichert demanded websites in Schleswig-Holstein remove the ?like? button from their offerings by the end of September or face a fine of up to €50,000.
Facebook, of course, is claiming that this is ridiculous and it has implemented the “like” button in accordance with Europe’s data protection laws. Looking at the details, it seems clear that these officials in Germany seem to think that pretty much all of the internet violates data protection laws. Any ISP can already do exactly what Weichert accuses Facebook of doing, but (like Facebook) they have rules that protect how that data is used in accordance with the law. Just because such information could be abused, it doesn’t mean that it is.
But the bigger point is that this is a choice for sites and users and it is not an issue that needs government involvement. Many people like using the “like” button, which is why it’s so popular. If it wasn’t useful to them, it wouldn’t be showing up on sites. Banning it to protect the users who want to use it makes no sense at all.