German Court Rules Against Facebook on Data Protection

德国法院对Facebook关于数据保护的裁决

2020/01/25 02:45  道琼斯

DJ German Court Rules Against Facebook on Data Protection


By Sara Germano

BERLIN -- A state court in Berlin ruled that some user terms set by Facebook Inc. violate consumer-data protection law in the latest example of back-and-forth between companies and courts to define the boundaries of the European Union's extensive privacy rules.

The ruling Friday, from the highest court in the city-state of Berlin, is a regional interpretation of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, which after nearly two years of being in effect still isn't uniformly enforced across Europe.

The Berlin ruling partially upheld a complaint from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, finding that certain Facebook terms violated a principle of GDPR requiring that "informed consent" be given by users before their data is collected.

The cited terms include a default setting to allow search engines to display a link to a user's Facebook profile, and a requirement that users allow Facebook to use their name and profile picture for commercial purposes.

The consumer group bringing the suit, known in German by the acronym VZBV, said in a statement that the ruling indicated that entities like itself could seek legal enforcement of GDPR without the involvement of an affected consumer.

"The Chamber of Justice has made it clear that consumer advice centers can take action against violations of the GDPR," said Heiko Dünkel, counsel at VZBV.

Part of the advocacy group's complaint, a challenge to Facebook's slogan that the social network "is and remains free" of cost, was struck down by the court.

Facebook said the case dated back to 2015 and terms cited by the VZBZ in its complaint "have long ceased to exist" as the company had updated its user settings.

"Independent of these German proceedings, we substantially revised our Terms of Service and Data Policy in the spring of 2018," Facebook said.

Enforcement of GDPR, particularly in Germany where privacy enjoys strong legal protection, has proved onerous for companies. Last February, Germany's Federal Cartel Office instructed Facebook to stop combining data it collects across its suite of products, which include WhatsApp and Instagram, arguing that the practice was anticompetitive.

That ruling was later overturned on appeal to a higher court, which found insufficient proof that Facebook's data collection methods violated competition law.

Facebook has argued in recent months that data is not a finite resource capable of monopolization, like oil, but something that can be both shared and stored. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is facing antitrust scrutiny by state and federal authorities in the U.S. as well as by the European Commission, the EU's enforcement arm.

Write to Sara Germano at sara.germano@wsj.com



(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 24, 2020 13:45 ET (18:45 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

DJ德国法院对Facebook关于数据保护的裁决


作者:Sara Germano

柏林--柏林的一家州法院裁定,Facebook公司设置了一些用户术语。违反了消费者数据保护法,这是公司和法院之间为界定欧盟广泛的隐私规则的界限而相互交换的最新例子。

柏林最高法院周五的裁决是对欧盟通用数据保护条例(General Data ProtectionRegulations)的区域性解释,该法规在生效近两年后,仍未在整个欧洲得到统一执行。

柏林的裁决部分支持了德国消费者组织联合会的申诉,认为某些Facebook术语违反了GDPR的原则,即用户在收集数据之前必须获得“知情同意”。

引用的术语包括默认设置,允许搜索引擎显示指向用户Facebook配置文件的链接,并要求用户允许Facebook将自己的姓名和个人资料图片用于商业目的。

提起诉讼的消费者团体在一份声明中表示,像自己这样的实体可以在不涉及受影响消费者的情况下寻求对GDPR的法律执行。VZBV在德语中被称为VZBV。

VZBV律师海科·迪恩克尔(Heiko Dünkel)表示:“司法部已经明确表示,消费者咨询中心可以对违反GDPR的行为采取行动。”

法庭驳回了该组织的部分申诉,这是对Facebook的口号的挑战,Facebook的口号是,社交网络“现在免费”,而且仍然免费。

Facebook表示,这起案件可追溯到2015年,VZBZ在其申诉中引用的条款“早已不复存在”,因为该公司已经更新了用户设置。

Facebook说:“除了这些德国程序之外,我们在2018年春天大幅修改了我们的服务条款和数据政策。”

GDPR的实施,特别是在隐私受到强有力的法律保护的德国,已经证明对公司来说是很麻烦的。去年2月,德国联邦卡特尔办公室(Federal Cartel Office)指示Facebook停止合并其产品套件(包括WhatsApp和Instagram)收集的数据,理由是这种做法是反竞争的。

这一裁决后来在上诉到更高级法院时被推翻,后者认为没有足够的证据证明Facebook的数据收集方法违反了竞争法。

近几个月来,Facebook一直认为,数据不是一种可以垄断的有限资源,比如石油,而是可以共享和存储的资源。这家总部位于加州门洛帕克的公司正面临美国各州和联邦当局以及欧盟执行机构欧盟委员会(EuropeanCommission)的反垄断审查。

电邮:sara.germano@wsj.com



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2020年1月24日13:45(格林尼治时间18:45)

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